Poetry: American Sons by Randy Woodley

Today, I’m posting about the American enterprise of war but really more about how precious is each person’s life and the cost of war to our humanity. “American Sons” is the poem. I apologize to all women because our daughters are now being sent to the front lines but when I wrote this poem, it was not the case. I beg your indulgence.

American Sons by Randy Woodley © 2000

At what cost O God has this country been born?
That of a fifteen year old Cherokee boy, Bird Clan-His Father’s only son
protecting his country from tyranny

At what cost O God has this country been born?
The blood of a young lad-MacNaughton, killed by the colony’s freedom fighters,
a world away from the heather

At what cost O God has this country been born?
A mother’s son of ten drumming for the Corp., cannons do not discriminate,
by age or jacket color

At what cost O God has this country been born?
Eighteen, hanging on a swampy Cypress tree because of a glance,
across the color line

At what cost O God has this country been born?
Across salty seas in a war to end all wars-the last man standing,
but barely a man-he fell

At what cost O God has this country been born?
The Japanese took no prisoners-his last words,
the same spoken when he was two, “mommy…”

At what cost O God has this country been born?
Nineteen and frozen in Korea,
pneumonia kills a boy like a bayonet

At what cost O God has this country been born?
Home from Vietnam but home disappeared,
He saved the last bullet for himself

Red…The land of the Red Man, barely visible, our red fading
I see your red colors dripping, leaking, spewing, spilling
Red from shame, red from anger-red on the land

Blue…A young man waits at Valley Forge, scrapping frosty toes and sees only blue
Blue bodies in criss-crossed angles lie in a Wounded Knee ditch,
war mothers live a lifetime in blue

And white? Not white that covers colors but white that heightens them
pure, sacred, clean white, white for peace,
no white…none at all

Mother’s give birth to American sons
marching they go from womb to war,
desperate grief cuts mom’s like a dull razor to the bone

Fathers grieve too, through thinly veiled rhetoric
Recovering from lunacy-words that feebly justify
the death of “daddy’s boy”

White, there is little to speak of-just red and blue.
Greed, racism, control…evil triplets
over populating what still stands between America’s shores

At what cost O God has this country been born?
Surrender, yes surrender—but to Your white flag my Lord
Not cowards but warriors who die in an instant and live forever heroes
birth us again, in White…

  • http://msaimagine.org Andy Wade

    Thanks for this, Randy. So powerful, sad, yet in the end, hope-filled. Yes, “birth us again in white” and may our theology of peace, the way of the Prince of Peace, not be swallowed up by the rhetoric of “heroes” sent off to kill in the name of “freedom”. At what cost has this Kingdom been born? An innocent man, clothed in white, hangs on a cross, dripping red, so that we might discover the way of peace, of healing, of true reconciliation.


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