By Jan Wyllie
There are people that think Mother’s Day was organized by Anna Jarvis, but thousands upon thousands of Fraternal Order of Eagle members will disagree.
On Feb. 7, 1904, Fraternal Order of Eagles Past Grand Worthy President Frank E. Hering made a public plea for a new national holiday. Hering’s hope was to have a day dedicated to honoring mothers everywhere. A decade later, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making that dream a reality. The second Sunday in May each year was officially declared Mother’s Day.
Now, 118 years later, the achievement remains one of the most significant milestones in the history of the organization. From preparing brunch to buying cards and flowers, the spirit of Hering and the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) lives on through our actions each Mother’s Day.
While the F.O.E. continues to celebrate and take pride in the creation of Mother’s Day, many citizens are unaware of the organization’s work toward making the holiday a reality.
Hering, a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame, found inspiration for the holiday when he stumbled upon a classroom of students preparing postcards to send home to their mothers. The generous task inspired him to create a day specifically for honoring and recognizing mothers.
Serving as Grand Worthy President in 1909 and 1911, Hering used his position of influence to spread his idea for Mother’s Day. Soon the enthusiasm swelled throughout the organization and Eagles across the country were eager to see their dream become a reality.
Aeries began hosting their own celebrations to honor mothers and finally their hard work paid off as President Wilson designated May 10, 1914, the first Mother’s Day. Several organizations have stepped forward in an attempt to take credit for the holiday, but documented evidence shows that Hering — and the Eagles — were the true founders of Mother’s Day.
In 1925, the Society of War Mothers introduced Hering as “The Father of Mother’s Day” before an audience of congressmen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier cementing his legacy — and that of the Eagles — as the founder of Mother’s Day.
Jan Wyllie has been a member of the Port Huron Elks Lodge 343 for the past 22 years being initiated on August 8, 1996. She was the second woman to join the Elks after the first woman, Marion Evans who was initiated on January 25, 1996. Jan has been the editor of the P.H. Elks Lodge newsletter called the Expositor since April 1997 through the present with a little break in the middle from June 2006 to March 2010. Jan has been an Officer of the Lodge several times being Lecturing Knight, Loyal Knight, Inner Guard, Tiler, Esquire, Chaplain, Trustee and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Through the years she has sat in for absent Officers on numerous occasions. She has chaired many events at the Lodge including Children’s Christmas Party, Easter Egg Hunt, New Year’s Parties, Super Bowl Parties, Expositor Parties, Family Picnic, Spam Fest, and many more. She continues to this day to make posters for events, tickets for events, programs, and more.
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