Mothers’ Day and V.E. Day

SUUF Spiritual Reflection

Sunday Morning May 10, 2020 from Rev. Glenn

Virtual Service SUUF May 10th, 2020

Today is May 10th, 2020, which is Mother’s Day in the United States.
And two days ago, on May 8th, 2020, was the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day (Victory in Europe) which marked the end of the European theatre of WWII, with the unconditional surrender of Germany.

So I want to reflect just a bit briefly on each, and share some readings that I came across this week in relation to both that I recommend to you.

Motherhood, is a difficult and demanding role in the best of circumstances.
The difficulty level has been ratcheted up in this time of global pandemic.

The mothers I know with small children are really in the thick of it now, trying to figure out their finances, keeping their job going to finding new work or extra side hustles, as the millennials call it, if their work dried up. They are navigating facetime and zoom and other online platforms for their own jobs and then for their children’s schools, as well. They are being sticklers, even more so that usual, regarding hygiene and cleaning and washing hands and showering. All in an environment of legitimate fear of they or a loved one contracting the novel corona virus, and legitimate fear of financial instability.

The mothers and grandmothers I know with adult children outside out of the home, today could be having a more isolating day.

The proverbial, “You never visit your mother anymore!” just doesn’t ring true in a time of global pandemic, when visiting your mother could put her health at serious risk.

If mothers are used to their adult children taking them out to brunch on Mother’s Day or presenting them with flowers in person; that might not be the safest course of action this year, if your children are not in your quaranteam.

Phone calls perhaps will be best this Mothers’ Day.

Now, usually in years past at SUUF, on Mother’s Day, we would read the responsive reading of the Mothers’ Day for Peace Proclamation of 1870 by Julia Ward Howe.

Julia Ward Howe was a leading Unitarian thinker/activist, abolitionist and suffragist, organizer and writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

This week, I came across a short reflection by the Historian Heather Cox Richardson, who is a History Professor at Boston College. Professor Richardson goes into detail on the origins of Mothers’ Day, and references Julia Ward Howe’s Mother Day Proclamation that we read together at SUUF every year, which some detailed background from Julia’s personal life and the political life of the country and world at that time, and women waking up to their political power.

I include the link below, I encourage you to read it, Professor Richardson is a gifted writer.

Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History at Boston College, On Origins of Mothers’ Day
May 9, 2020

V.E. Day May 8th, 1945 Victory in Europe Day

“To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” – James Baldwin

Friday, May 8th, 2020 was the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the end of WWII in Europe with the unconditional surrender of Germany.

Everything I know about WWII I have read in history books or been told stories about or seen movies. I have no lived experience of it.

Nevertheless, what I know about it…makes me feel strongly…that to be an engaged US citizen today in in 2020 it is imperative we study, in some depth, the 1930s and 1940s and all the factors that lead to World War II; propaganda, scapegoating, nationalism, racism, tyranny, why & how institutions fail and why & how institutions persevere. We should study what Hannah Arendt meant when she wrote “totalitarian movements use and abuse democratic freedoms in order to abolish them.”

There was a big commemoration event scheduled for Friday 5/8/2020 to take place in Berlin with representatives from all the nations involved in WWII invited to formally attend the event.

Of course, the in-person event was rightfully cancelled out of safety concerns due to the novel corona virus pandemic.

However, the President of Germany released a speech for the occasion, had it translated into ten languages, including English, and posted it online for all to read.

(Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany and is the head of government.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the President of Germany, which is the head of state of Germany. This speech was written by the President of Germany.)

I read it and found it very moving, very insightful, very mature, very motivating to remain steadfast in advocating for freedom and democracy and truth. I included the link below and encourage you to read it for yourself.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, on the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day, end of WWII in Europe May 8th, 2020

“No heart is as whole as a broken heart.” – Rabbi Nachman

Finally, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, who was a driver for British war effort as a teenager, spoke on Friday to commemorate VE day and spoke last month to the Commonwealth to encourage them during the corona virus pandemic.

When she spoke last month, April 5th, she ended her address with the phrase, “We’ll Meet Again”

When she spoke on Friday May 8th, after the address, the British public was invited to join a country-wide singalong of “We’ll Meet Again” outside their front doors.

“We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn is one of the most famous songs of the Second World War era. It was said to resonate with soldiers going off to fight as well as their families and sweethearts. Dame Vera Lynn is held with great affection by veterans of the Second World War and in 2000 was named “the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century.” Believe it or not, she is still alive today at 103 years old!

We have a special treat today, in that our wonderful musician, Susannah Martin, recorded Vera Lynn’s famous song “We’ll Meet Again” for us this week.

Thank you Susannah! 🙂 It is a lovely song.

May the world be at peace, and may you be at peace.

We’ll Meet Again

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long

They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day