A talk on Copper Country Mothers during World War I by Patty Sotirin will take place tonight (Nov. 6) at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the talk begins at 6:15. Refreshments will be served. This event is part of World War I & the Copper Country.
Sotirin’s talk explains how mothers of sons in military service were critical figures in the Copper Country’s participation in the Great War. The war was a personal challenge for mothers, but made them public figures as well. Highlighting several local mothers whose boys went to war, Sotirin sketches what that experience was like for them based on letters, poems and newspaper stories. Beyond their personal pride and trials, the patriotic citizen mother ready to sacrifice her children for the nation emerged as a public focus for recruitment appeals, servicemen support and national grieving.
Special attention is given to the creation of the Gold Star Mothers and their sojourn at national expense to visit their boys’ graves overseas. Given women’s campaign for the vote and the importance of ethnic identity in the Copper Country, the experiences of mothers here highlight some of the tensions among motherhood, nationalism and citizenship that are still part of our collective story of motherhood and war.