As this Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day, I figured this was a great opportunity to pay tribute to the “first mother” of the United States–Mary Ball Washington. But before we go on about Mary Washington, let us entertain a bit of legal history. Many of us see Mother’s Day like any other holiday with a timeless past; however, it was not until 1914 that it was set out as a national holiday for the United States.
On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued Presidential Proclamation 1268. The proclamation directs “the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings” and “invite[s] the people of the United States to display the flag on their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC), which we use frequently for illustrating this blog, includes several images concerning Mary Ball Washington. As you may know, Mary Washington, the mother of the first president of the United States, George Washington, was a long-time resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Thus, it is no surprise that Fredericksburg would be rich with landmarks commemorating her historical presence there. Hence the reason why University of Mary Washington, which is also in Fredericksburg, is named after her.
One Sunday, this past March, as I was looking to kill time before getting to my church, Fredericksburg Baptist Church, I stumbled across Mary Washington’s House. So, I seized the moment and took a few pictures, which you can see below. The house is located on the corner of Lewis and Charles Streets, at 1200 Charles Street, in the Historic District of Fredericksburg, Virginia. For those of you interested in colonial architecture, be sure to take a look at these images.
Later, during one of my strolls through other parts of Fredericksburg, I chanced upon the Mary Washington Monument. Below are those pictures.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all the moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Nice photos. Made this very interesting article more real. So Mothers’ Day is actually a patriotic celebration of the mothers of the Founding Fathers that has evolved into a sentimental celebration of our own mothers. Double edged sword here, hmmm? We lost the original patriotic intention but gained a beautiful universal celebration of motherhood. I have never seen anyone display the flag on Mothers’ Day. Is the history of Fathers’ Day similar? Thanks for this very surprising story.
Thank you for your comments and your interest, Nathan. I did a very quick search and it took me to Proclamation 3730, June 15, 1966, which was issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which states:
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, LYNDON B. JOHNSON, President of the United States of America, in consonance with Senate Joint Resolution 161 of the Eighty-ninth Congress, request the appropriate Government officials to arrange for the display of the flag on all Government buildings on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, 1966.
I invite State and local governments to cooperate in the observance of that day; and I urge all our people to give public and private expression to the love and gratitude which they bear for their fathers.”
Based on a cursory search, apparently Woodrow Wilson attempted to do the same with Father’s Day in 1916. You’ve certainly given us an idea for a future blog post.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be flying my flag in honor of my mother. Thanks, again, Nathan.
Thanks for the feedback and links. Looking forward to article for Fathers’ Day.