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The First National Celebration of Mother’s Day

May 11, 1913
The First National Celebration of Mother’s Day Image courtesy of Library of Congress Serving nine terms in the House, James Heflin of Alabama was later elected to two full terms in the U.S. Senate.
On this date, the Members of the House of Representatives wore white carnations to honor American mothers in the Capitol's first observance of Mother’s Day. Representative James Heflin of Alabama introduced House Resolution 103 on May 10th requesting President Woodrow Wilson, members of his Cabinet, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and other federal officials to don white carnations, "or some other white flower," to honor mothers for being "the greatest source of our country’s strength and inspiration.” The tradition of wearing white carnations (and later red carnations) spread across the nation. The Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., adorned its lobby with vases of white carnations, as did many restaurants in the capital city. With the positive response to the 1913 resolution, Heflin introduced formal legislation in 1914, designating the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day. Heflin’s 1914 resolution made no mention of carnations, but requested that the U.S. flag be displayed at government offices, homes, and businesses across the country, “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” After quickly passing the House and being directed through the Senate by former Representative Morris Sheppard of Texas, the bill went to the President’s desk on May 8th, and became law that same day.

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