With the observance of another Mother's Day, America is passing a milestone that is really more significant than it may seem.

This marks the 80th anniversary of Mother's Day, an event whose continued observance and increasing popularity comes as a reaffirmation that motherhood and the family are still revered in this country despite some efforts to downgrade them.As we honor mother on her day, then, we are doing much more than just enriching a few florists and candy shops. Rather, we are making a small downpayment on that huge debt of gratitude owed to the best friend and mentor most of us ever had.

And we are paying tribute to the importance of the home and family. Indeed, the family remains the most fundamental unit of any society. Historians record that entire civilizations have risen or fallen depending on how well or how poorly the family was treated.

If Mother's Day brings out more effusions of unabashed sentiment than just about any other occasion, so be it. In fact, such expressions are good for us all. Mother needs to know she isn't taken for granted, and it does everyone else good to express their innermost feelings. Mother-love, after all, is one of the most basic of these feelings since it is among the first emotions a child feels - and it stays with us either consciously or unconsciously throughout our lives.

The happiest of Mother's Days, then, and may the gifts given this day include that richest gift of all - the gift of love.