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Byrd's-Eye View: "Mother's Day"


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The origins of Mother's Day are rooted deep in the West Virginia hills. Anna Jarvis was born in Webster, West Virginia, on May 1, 1864. Her family moved to Grafton, West Virginia when she was a child. On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis arranged a memorial service to honor her mother's memory. That event sparked her successful campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday. That dream came true for Anna Jarvis in 1914.

Today, the International Mother's Day Shrine, located in Grafton, commemorates Anna Jarvis' accomplishment. However, I believe that the best Mother's Day shrine is the one which each of us builds in our hearts of the memories of our own mothers.

While Mother's Day will be joyful for many, it is heartbreaking to think of the mothers who will not receive cards or flowers, or enjoy a Mother's Day brunch with their husbands and children. In Montcoal, West Virginia, there are twenty-nine families who are grieving the loss of sons, husbands, brothers, and friends. The community, the state, and the nation grieve with them, but that is of little comfort for the mothers who will wake on this Mother's Day to quiet houses and silent phones.

Mother's Day is lonely as well for the mothers, wives, and families of soldiers who have been lost in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. Miner's mothers like soldier's mothers know well of the constant tension of having a beloved child in harm's way.

These "mother's fears" have not changed since I was a child growing up in the coalfields or during all the wars and conflicts since. Neither have the vigils outside of a mine disaster, nor the tearful memorials and funeral services that follow. The haunting bugle call of "Taps" brings a lump in my throat today just as it did the first time I watched a soldier be buried with military honors. During those services, often the most tragic figure of all was the mother.

Tragedy reminds us just how much mother's care means to children, and how much their children mean to mothers. This Mother's Day we have an opportunity to thank our mothers for that care, either in person or in our prayers, and to think about that great generosity of spirit that marks all mothers.

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