The Mother’s Day Legacy: Celebrating Honor and Tradition

  • Jan White and Great Grandson Lavelle
  • L to R Stu Courtic, Grand Daughter Lissie Powell, Grand Daughter Stephanie Powell, Jeanne Courtice (Photo By Jo Anne Disney)
  • Linda Miller (Photo by Jo Anne Disney)

By Jo Anne Disney
May 8, 2013 • 1,036 views

El Monte

Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year. Children and adults of all ages honor their mothers on this day.

History tells us that in 1872 Julia Ward Howe, a poet and writer who lived in Boston, Massachusetts, made the first suggestion to celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States. She suggested that “people observe a Mother’s Day on June 2nd as a day dedicated to peace.”

Then, a Kentucky schoolteacher named Mary Towles Sasseen started conducting Mother’s Day celebrations in 1887. Frank E. Hering of South Bend, Indiana started a campaign for celebrating Mother’s Day in 1904.

However, “the woman who started the Mother’s Day holiday we celebrate now was Anna M. Jarvis. She was born in a small town called Grafton, Virginia. Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in honor of her own mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, who died on the second Sunday in May, 1905.”  She also started the tradition of wearing a carnation. Today, it is customary to wear a red flower if your mother is living and a white flower if she is deceased.

After an extensive letter writing campaign, (Anna wrote over 10,000 letters according to W.W. Gore), and gaining the support of religious as well as newspaper and government leaders, President Woodrow Wilson announced that Congress had voted to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. The date was May 8, 1914 and Wilson said, “Everyone everywhere should honor the mothers of our country.” Mother’s Day has been on the second Sunday in May ever since then.

Moreover, in 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an ardent stamp collector, chose James Abbot McNeill Whistler’s famous painting known as “Whistler’s Mother” to be on a stamp that year.  And, the words found on the stamp, “In Memory and Honor of the Mothers of America,” pays tribute to mothers everywhere.

In our own neighborhood, we honor on this Mother’s Day Jeanne Courtice. She was born in New York and moved to California and attended UC Santa Barbara. She and her husband Stu have been married for 56 years. They have lived in Temple City since 1961. They have two children Steve and Debbie and 4 grandchildren:  Jennifer, Stephanie, Kevin and Lizzie. Jeanne worked for the Alhambra School District for 15 years. According to Jeanne, Mother’s Day is “an occasion to celebrate a most important job and getting together with family.” Jeanne is very proud of her children and her grandchildren and all of their accomplishments.

Another local mom we honor on this Mother’s Day is Jan White. Jan was born at Garfield Hospital in Alhambra and has lived in El Monte since 1948. She remembers her first job was at the El Monte Hardware Store at the age of 13. Then a few years later she got a job at the JCP’s in El Monte at the Valley Mall. She graduated from Nativity School and El Monte High. She has three children:  Karen, Penni, and Greg; four grandchildren:  Jessica, Steven, Tabatha, and Erin and four great-grandchildren:  Jaelyn, Emma, Lavelle, and Taylor. According to Jan, Mother’s Day is a time to “reflect on my mom, grandmas and all my ancestors. I wish the family unit could be like it used to be.” Jan retired from Cal-State, Los Angeles after many years of service and now enjoys traveling and visiting her many long-time friends.

Another local mom we honor on this Mother’s Day is Linda Miller. Linda was born in Los Angles and lived in Whittier and El Monte. She married her high school sweetheart, Donald Miller and they have been married for 45 years. They moved to Temple City in 1973. They have two sons, Don and Dave and six grandsons:  Andrew, Nick, Thomas, Brian, Ryan, and Hayden. Linda was a stay-at-home mom who volunteered and worked for the PTA and her church. According to Linda, Mother’s Day is a time “for mothers to be grateful for their children, family, and grandchildren. She shared that her sons still love to vacation as a family and she loves how close they all are.

In Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, there are many descriptive adjectives for the word “mother,” among them to show tenderness and affection as well as to care for and to protect. I think these words are exactly what mothers do. What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to honor all of the special mothers in your life.

So to all mothers, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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