The Mother’s Day Project

War is Personal

What Is The Mother’s Day Project?

The Mother’s Day Project is not – as the name would suggest – a cross-stitch sampler of aprons and biscuits and babies and other sentimental iconography associated with mothers and motherhood. Truth is, The Mother’s Day Project is only marginally about mothers.

So, why the name? Mostly, it evolved in the context of several on-going discussions and experiences from my own life, thinking about my years as a single-parent, blogging about the very real lack of support (both governmental and cultural) for working parents and their families, along with a healthy mix of stream-of-consciousness meandering of the sort that can only occur when one has time, quiet, sunlight and is just exhausted enough to allow the brain to meander and construct run-on sentences like this one.

It’s nice to discover that Julia Ward Howe envisioned the original Mother’s Day as a Peace Movement following her experiences during the American Civil War. That fact certainly lends credibility to the name. As human beings, the work of bringing peace to our personal relationships, our communities, our country and our world may be the most noble and necessary endeavor of our lifetime. I am all in favor of returning Mother’s Day to its original purpose and I hope this small, grassroots project will advance a return to the genesis of the day.

The larger purpose of The Mother’s Day Project is to draw attention to the human cost of the Iraq War. While the parameters of the Project focus on women who have lost their lives serving as part of the Coalition forces in Iraq, it is not meant to exclude recognition for others who have lost their lives due to this war. Male soldiers, men, boys, girls, infants and Iraqi women have died in the thousands. They are all worthy and deserving of our attention. They were all part of the universal “us.”

This war, more than any other in my lifetime, has been removed from the collective psyche of our day-to-day lives. What we see, what we know and subsequently, what we feel is tightly controlled. No flag-draped coffins. Reporters are “embedded.” Most days, the daily death toll from Iraq is buried in a sidebar of my local newspaper several pages inside. And, when we do stop to think about the deaths we read about, we know they are only part of the story. The real numbers coming out of Iraq reveal a level of violence and destruction that is, for most of us, too daunting, too numbing to comprehend.

The Mother’s Day Project, in making the losses of war personal, changes forever the sense of disengagement that the Bush Administration wishes us to feel. Yeah, we can spend a couple of hours shopping at the mall as this administration wishes us to do, or, we can take an hour or two to forge a personal connection with someone who died in Iraq and, in doing so, never be able to look at those war statistics in the same detached way again.

That’s not a protest of the Iraq War. It’s the birth of a revolution.

How Does The Mother’s Day Project Work?

Participants in the project are helping to embroider the names of female Coalition members who have lost their lives in Iraq. A swatch of muslin fabric with the woman’s name heat-stamped on it, is sent to volunteer stitchers who then embroider over the letters of her name with embroidery floss or thread. The completed names are then returned to become part of an embroidered fabric collage memorial.

Since the larger point of the project is to make the war personal, stitchers are encouraged to record their experiences throughout their involvement. If they have a blog, they may choose to write about what it was like to make a personal connection with a soldier who lost her life. Blog or no, each stitcher is asked to write something about the experience and send in their thoughts and observations.

How To Join the Project

The Mother’s Day Project will continue until the Iraq War has ended and our troops have returned home. If you would like to volunteer to stitch a name and write about your experience, send an email to: mothersdayproject@sbcglobal.net and include your complete name and full postal address.

A fabric swatch and name will be mailed to you along with detailed instructions for completing and returning it.

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