A crowd of about 60 community members as marched through Bellingham on Saturday, May 13, with a Mother’s Day message of peace.
Part of the reason for the march was to resurrect the original meaning of Mother’s Day, which was a day committed to peaceful endeavors, Scott Thompson, a member of the Green Party of Whatcom County, said.
“We were trying to think of a public outreach event that would help highlight the critical need for promoting peace in our society,” Thompson said.
Initiated by Ann Reeves Jarvis and made official by President Woodrow Wilson in the year 1914, Mother’s Day was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace, according to National Geographic.
Members of the community, from college students to mothers to Vietnam veterans, gathered outside of the Bellingham Farmer’s Market to listen to speeches about a variety of topics ranging from the military industrial complex to money in politics. Then they marched up the sidewalk through the city center, before ending up outside the Karate Church.
Along with the Green Party of Whatcom County, the event was sponsored by three other local groups: Veterans for Peace Chapter 111, the Bellingham-Whatcom Peace Vigil and the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.
Neah Monteiro is the executive director of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center. She organized the event along with Thompson. In reference to the recent enthusiasm around marches and protests, Monteiro said the current political climate is what has people paying attention.
“People are feeling frustrated about money going to bomb Syria instead of into education, healthcare and diplomacy,” Monteiro said. “It’s highlighting that violence is part of the American way and ‘othering’ people is what our country was founded on.”
The event began with a reading of the original Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, a renowned social activist and advocate for social justice during the women’s suffrage movement. The proclamation calls upon all women to help save their husbands and sons from the carnage of war.
Before marching began, community members, stood atop a statue of a wagon being pulled by a goat and gave speeches centered around what they described as the atrocities of war. They read poems, revised the original proclamation to fit modern-day society and started chants among the crowd of “No more war!”
The anti-war sentiment was echoed by Thompson, along with the other sponsors of the march, and was meant to be a central theme of the event.
“When young men and women go into the armed services they have to be deprogrammed to unlearn all of the kind, nurturing skills that mothers have taught these kids,” Thompson said.
Thompson met Monteiro at the Martin Luther King Junior human rights conference in January and he proposed the idea of hosting a Mother’s Day march. Monteiro said she agreed to help organize and take part in the march in an effort to shine a light on the peace movement and share a bit of the history of Mother’s Day.
“A lot of the folks who come to this are people who’ve experienced the Vietnam war in one way or another,” Monteiro said. “Young people can learn a lot from the veterans of the peace movement, even though there’s a lot of challenges working across generations.”
When the march concluded, attendees were greeted at the Alternative Library with a Peace Music concert featuring Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz of the Irthlingz.
This event followed the same format as a previous Mother’s Day march, which was held in 2012.
As of right now, there are no plans for any marches or events with the same underlying themes of the Mother’s Day March, but groups like the Green Party of Whatcom County and the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center will continue to provide support and join in on other community events that align with their beliefs and values, Thompson said.
Community members looking to continue the fight for peace are encouraged by the Bellingham-Whatcom Peace Vigil to join them at 4 to 5 p.m. every Friday on the corner of Magnolia and Cornwall while they stand in the longest-running weekly peace vigil in the U.S.David WhorpoleDavid Whorpole