If you think that Mother's Day is one of those holidays created by the greeting card industry, you may be in for a surprise. Giving thanks to mothers has been a part of many cultures for as far back as history has been recorded.
In the United States, the tradition is frequently traced to Anna Jarvis, who in the mid-19th century organized women to help improve health conditions related to poor sanitation. Her daughter sought to honor her mother's lifelong activism by urging national leaders to create a day memorializing mothers. By the early 20th century, the idea had major support in political circles as the role of women in civic and public life became more prominent.
In 1914, Congress passed a Mother's Day resolution, which was signed by then-President Woodrow Wilson. On May 9, 1914, he proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. Wilson called upon Americans to observe Mother's Day ''as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.''
Most people don't need a government proclamation to remind them of the importance of their mothers.
It is rare to find anyone of prominence whose achievements were not in some respect the product of maternal guidance.
Mothers give birth to more than just our physical being. They shape our character and implore us to pursue our dreams.
We Americans owe a great deal to George Washington. Our first president, however, made it quite clear that without his mother's influence he might not have become the stellar figure history honors.
''All I am I owe to my mother,'' Washington said. ''I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.''
For each of us, the specifics of a mother's influence vary, but the profound impact a mother can have on her offspring is universally understood.
On this Mother's Day 2012, it is once again time to pause from the distractions of daily life to honor the women who gave us life and so very much more.