My Heroes

A Civil War Poem honoring the Grand Army of the Republic

By Miss Ethal Gammon

I’ve been reading today of some heroes true

Of Sherman and Grant and Sheridan too,

And their fame is ringing throughout the land,

And we’re bringing flowers with loving hand

And fair gleaming monuments point to the sky,

To show all the world where these heroes lie.

I’ve been thinking today of some heroes, too,

Who wore for their country the Union blue.

Their uniforms have no shoulder straps,

No trimmings of gay gold lace;

But they marched to the front when their country called

And met Death face to face.

At Chancellorsville and Antietam, too,

In the thickest of strife,

These heroes stood ready for the flag

To lay down their very life.

In Libby Prison and in Andersonville,

That awful rebel hell,

These heroes met a far worse death

Than that sent by shot and shell.

No monument marks their resting place,

Out there in the Southern sod.

In unknown graves, their bodies lie,

But their souls are with our God.

And some of the heroes are with us yet,

Bearing many a wound and scar;

Heroes that we too oft forget,

The men of the G.A.R.

Yes, Sheridan won at Cedar Creek,

And Sherman marched to the sea,

And General Grant won the victory

Over haughty General lee.

But what would Grant and Sherman

And the other generals have done

If it hadn’t been for the private —

The man behind the gun?

On battlefield, in prison pen,

Their lives they freely gave.

Can we honor them too much,

Who died this land to save?

Do you think that we have paid them,

For those four long years of strife,

When on this Country’s alter,

They laid their all, their life?

That man who says the soldier

Has been paid for what he’s done

Is one of the biggest cowards

That walks beneath the sun.

Paid! Why we couldn’t pay them

If we gave without a stint,

Of all the gold and silver,

That’s coined in our country’s mint.

But we can keep Memorial Day

In reverence and in love,

Til the last dear gray-haired veteran

Has been mustered-in, above.

And then we’ll keep their mem’ry still,

While over them doth wave,

The dear old Stars and Stripes for which

They gave their lives — their all — to save.

Ah yes, our generals were heroes,

Let us tell it near and far;

But my heroes, my dear friends,

Are the privates — the boys of the G.A.R.


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