James D. Hughes


God gave my son to me:
Christ died for him, and he should be
A man for Christ. He is his own,
And God’s and man’s: not mine alone.
He was not mine to “give.” He gave
Himself that he might help save
All that a Christian should revere,
All that enlightened men hold dear.

“To feed the guns!” O torpid soul!
Awake, and see life as a whole,
When freedom, honor, justice, right,
Were threatened by the despot’s might;
With heart aflame and soul alight

He bravely went for God to fight
Against base savages, whose pride
The laws of God and man defied,
Who slew the mother and child,
Who maidens pure and sweet defiled;
He did not go “to feed the guns.”
He went to save from ruthless Huns
His home and country, and to be
A guardian of democracy.

“What if he does not come?” you say;
Ah well, my sky would be more gray,
But through the clouds the sun would shine
And vital memories be mine.
God’s test of manhood is, I know,
Not “Will he come?” but “Did he go?”
My son well knew that he might die.
And yet he went with purpose high,
To fight for peace, and overthrow
The plans of Christ’s relentless foe.
He dreaded not the battlefield;
He went to make fierce vandals yield.
If he comes not again to me
I shall be sad; but not that he
Went like a man – a hero true –
His part unselfishly to do.

My heart will feel exultant pride
That for humanity he died.

“Forgotten grave!” The selfish plea
Awakes no deep response in me.
For, though his grave I may not see,
My boy will ne’er forgotten be,
My real son can never die;
‘Tis his body that may lie
In foreign land, and I shall keep
Remembrance food, forever, deep
Within my heart of my true son
Because of triumphs that he won,
It matters not where anyone
May lie and sleep when work is done.

It matters not where some men live,
If my dear son his life must give.
Hosannas I will sing for him,
E’en though my eyes with tears be dim.
And when the war is over, when
His gallant comrades come again
I’ll cheer them as they’re marching by,
Rejoicing that they did not die.
And when his vacant place I see
My heart will bound with joy that he
Was mine so long-my fair young son,
And cheer for him whose work is done.

This poem is copied from the book, “The Best Loved Poems of the American People”, Selected by Hazel Felleman, Copyrighted 1936 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Webmaster’s Note: I sincerely thank Brady Ervin (USA) for providing the full text and information about the poem, which was previously displayed in an incomplete form.