Article Overview:   When Julia Ward Howe wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic was she thinking of Iraq?  North Korea?  Afghanistan?   Was she a peace protestor or a Mother of Vigilance, willing to die for the freedom of others?  Find out.


Sunday--May 11, 2003Ground Zero Plus 606
 Battle Hymn Of The Republic Author Launches "Mother's Vigilance Day"
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, NEW YORK, NY--History often buried priceless facts.  One of those is that the author of one of America's most patriotic songs, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was also a key force in establishing what we call today, Mother's Day.   And, if she were alive today, she would lobby to have the day's name changed to "Mother's Vigilance Day."

Julia Ward Howe was instrumental in establishing  a national Mothers Day

       Julia Ward Howe, at age 42, wrote the song in 1861.  It became famous during the Civil War, and was enshrined in modern vestments by the King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley, who sang it so melodically more than a century later that listeners fell silent and tears streaked their cheeks while listening.
       But music wasn't Julia Ward Howe's mission in life.   World peace, anti-slavery, and women's suffrage were.
       With her husband, she co-published The Commonwealth, a newspaper seeking social justice.   As a poet/activist, she broke down many barriers.  In 1908, two years before her death on her 99th birthday, she was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ana Jarvis lobbied businesses and politicians to declare a national day of honor for mothers

      In 1872 she suggested that Mother's Day be dedicated as a day of peace, urging the world to put down its swords and stop the bloodshed.
       Her campaign for a national Mother's Day was championed by Ana Jarvis from Philadelphia in 1907.  Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May, the anniversary of her mother's death.   She lobbied businesses and politicians to declare a national day of honor for mothers.  President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 made the official proclamation.
      The U.S. is not the only nation to honor mothers on this date.   Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.
       While today we lavish mothers with gifts and commercialize Mother's Day, its true essence is seeded in a search for peace.

Julia Howe supported the justice of victory over evil

       Back in Julia Howe's day, however, the world was a twisted, broken heap of maimed bodies of young men, fathers and grandfathers.  These were the thousands upon thousands of dead and wounded from the Civil War, America's most brutal conflict.  The Civil War created 780,000 casualties and produced 498,000 American deaths, nearly ten times the number killed in Vietnam.
       Mothers sat in burned homes surrounded by the graves of husbands, sons, grandfathers, brothers, cousins.   The stench of war was caustic to Julia Howe, as it has been for all women throughout history who suffer the aftermath of losing their spouses and children to the ravages of the Beast of Terror's thirst to kill.

Mother in Iraq places flowers on her son's grave

       Today, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other war-torn sections of the world, mothers mourn the loss of loved ones to the rapacious appetite of the Beast of War.  War is without doubt, the most brutal example of the inhumanity of human beings to one another.  It is Terrorism's highest peak.
        Julia Ward Howe sought to make Mother's Day not simply a tribute to the women who give birth and are called "Mom," but to help the world hear their cries of suffering, the wails and cries of their losses, and the futility of war's violence as a solution to the ills of the world.  But, she wasn't what we would call a modern "peace activist."

        The words of her song--originally written as a poem and submitted to the Atlantic Monthly, whose editors published it and gave it the title, Battle Hymn of the Republic--are not a cry to disarm.  They aren't a protest against violence.  They are, instead, a rally cry for a swift end to the evil that creates war, a promotion of the victory of the North over the South.

The Sword of Vigilance strikes down the Beast of Terror

        Unlike modern war protestors who scream and shout anti-American slogans and call for soldiers to drop their weapons and issue criminal accusations against American foreign policy, Julia Howe supported the justice of victory over what she considered "evil."   Throughout the lyrics, she choruses the Sword of Vigilance striking down the Beast of Terror.   "He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on."
       She elevates the Soldiers of Vigilance to "hero status," reminding them of the just nature of their cause in the third stanza:  "
Let the Hero born of woman, Crush the serpent with His heel..."  And, in the final stanza, she recognized the price of freedom:  "As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make men free..."

       There is little question that her words were forged to inspire the North to a swift victory, and that she saw the South and its stand in support of slavery as part of an "evil axis," not unlike the parallel that can be drawn today with Iraq or North Korea.   

If Julia Ward Howe were alive today, she would be an advocate for World Vigilance

       She was a Mother of Vigilance in this respect, for while seeking peace she was not afraid to confront the Beast, and to battle him or her to the death if necessary.
        Today, it is easy for us to bemoan the horrors of war, and to want to drop our swords and shields and take up ploughshares, to turn toward butter and away from guns.    But that's not what Julia Ward Howe was saying in her Battle Hymn of the Republic.
        She was saying that Complacency, Terrorism's greatest cancer, must be met with Right Actions to the benefit of future generations.
       As a Mother of Vigilance, she recognized that the "serpent (evil)" must be crushed.  She was willing to relate the death of Jesus to make "men holy" an example of the duty of men to "die to make men free."
       From a modern peace point of view, this seems diametrically opposed to the idea of "no blood."   But to Julia Ward Howe, she realized that the Beast of Terror had to be stopped, and to stop him meant risking lives, and any life given in the pursuit of that goal would be a glorious life given, not unlike the death of Christ, dying so others could live.
       Historically, women have been major advocates of peace, but they also have historically been able to recognize the dangers of tyranny and oppression, and the price one is forced to pay if freedom is given over in the name of peace.
       That's why I believe if Julia Ward Howe were alive today, she would be an advocate for World Vigilance rather than World Peace.   World Vigilance means that nations and people arm themselves against the wrath of the Beast of Terror.   They train themselves to hold up the Sword of Vigilance and Shield of Vigilance against the Triad of Terrorism--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  

"As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free"  December 1st, 1894

      Julia Ward Howe would recognize that to drop the Sword of Vigilance because it was a "weapon" or to cast off the Shield of Vigilance because it had the earmarks of a military weapon would only invite the Beast of Terror not deter him from sitting at the dinner table.
       As a Mother of Vigilance she would want the fences around the children's playground guarded by Sentinels of Vigilance, those willing to give their lives to protect the rights and freedom of the children.  She would not want to teach a child that might and force were bad, but rather that might and force, used to protect the children and Children's Children's Children's rights to live free and safe lives was a necessity.
      She would teach the children there was a Beast of Terror, and that he or she sought to drive a wedge of Fear between a child's Courage, and to pour salt on a child's Conviction so the child would shrivel under the pain of Intimidation. Thus the Beast's greatest triumph would be to cause the child to think the Beast was dead, gone, and to fall Complacent and disarm, thinking, falsely, that he or she was safe.  Instead, she would promote the need for the child to always take Right Actions, to stand as a protectorate for the future generations, to keep a wary eye out for the Beast who often dons sheep's clothing and bleats for those Vigilant Soldiers to retire their Sentinel of Vigilance duties and lower the drawbridge.

Howe's greatest weapon was the Battle Hymn of the Republic

      No.  While Julia Ward Howe was for peace, she was for a Vigilant Peace.   She was for Mother's and Fathers of Vigilance to stand up on Mother's Day and create Peace by driving the Beast of Terror away with the Sword and Shield of Vigilance.
      Her greatest weapon would be a song--the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  For when she sang it, the Beast would hear the words and run.  He would run because he knew the most powerful message in the song were the lyrics--
"Let the Hero born of woman, Crush the serpent with His heel..."
      Join Julia Ward Howe.  Take the Pledge Of Vigilance today.

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
Of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watchfires
Of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar
In the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence
By the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.


I have read a fiery gospel writ
In burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with My contemners,
So with you My grace shall deal":
Let the Hero born of woman
Crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.


He has sounded forth the trumpet
That shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men
Before His judgement seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him;
Be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.


In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy,
Let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on.


May 10--Terrorism & The 100-Million-Year-Old Army Ant Of Vigilance

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