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"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" - What does it mean to you?

Updated on August 22, 2014

The Hollies - "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (1969)

Quotes About Love

1. In the Bible; John 13:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

2. "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." - Aristotle

3. "Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." - Peter Ustinov

4. In the Bible; Romans 13:8

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

5. "Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love." - Francis of Assisi

6. "The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving." - Edwin Louis Cole

Origin of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"

Where did this saying really come from? Father Flanagan's Boys' Town is usually attributed with the origin of that famous saying but in fact Father Flanagan borrowed it. According to Wikipedia, variations of this statement have been around since 1884. However, the story of a boy with braces on his leg at Boys' Town is the one most are familiar with. His "brothers" at Boys Town took turns carrying him. There are several statues at Boys' Town showing the boy carrying the other.

You may be familiar with the 1938 version of Boys' Town starring Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan. Fast forward to 1969 the Hollies recorded a song of the same name. The song, like the saying, is timeless. One that reminds us we have an obligation to our brothers. Can we carry our brother? Maybe not literally but yes, figuratively we can carry our brother.

He's My Brother

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Those who serve."Brothers" on a swim team.People in a nursing home.Boy Scouts are brothers.Members of the American Legion.People we meet at the beach.Those who serve us.Veterans of all ages.People in a train station.Remembering our brothers.
Those who serve.
Those who serve. | Source
"Brothers" on a swim team.
"Brothers" on a swim team. | Source
People in a nursing home.
People in a nursing home. | Source
Boy Scouts are brothers.
Boy Scouts are brothers. | Source
Members of the American Legion.
Members of the American Legion. | Source
People we meet at the beach.
People we meet at the beach. | Source
Those who serve us.
Those who serve us. | Source
Veterans of all ages.
Veterans of all ages. | Source
People in a train station.
People in a train station. | Source
Remembering our brothers.
Remembering our brothers. | Source

Who Is Your Brother?

So who is your brother? Is it only your sibling or is it every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth? Anyone with love in their heart will choose the second answer because that is the correct answer. We are all brothers. The video for "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" is a perfect example. Young men from all over the country answer the call to serve their Country. They are from different parts of the country, different ages, different upbringings, and different beliefs. Yet, once they are in the military they are brothers. They share everything and look out for each other. The pictures in the video really drive home the point.

So many times you read that the homeless man on the street is your brother or that the prostitute on the corner is your sister. Yes, they are. We are all in this world together, we came in the same way and we'll leave the same way. We are all brothers in God's eyes. if we are brothers in God's eyes why can't we be brothers in our own? There is no selection here. We can't choose not to like the tall man or the fat woman or the skinny child, they are all our brothers.

"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." -- Maya Angelou. We need to recognize we are all brothers. Every religion teaches brotherly love. Who are we to ignore the teachings handed down to us for generations?

Quotes about brotherhood can be found everywhere, not just in the Bible. "United we stand, divided we fall" is surely a tribute to brotherhood. So look to every man to be your brother. As we look to the future and wish for a better world we can start with our brother and what we can do for him.


This hub was accidentally published before it was finished. My brothers here on HP loved it the way it was so I am leaving it. As I close, I leave you with the thoughts of loving all your brothers!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      We can only hope Nell! Thanks for reading.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, well I loved it too! lol! seriously I love the song and the meaning behind it, if we all got along together and learned to care the world would be a better place, nell

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      It is not at all surprising Vincent to see that you agree with me. I am a bit surprised though, and saddened by your childhood suffering. It would seem you have lived through your fair share. Maybe that is what makes you such a great is often said that those who have suffered in life are better writers!

      Thank you my friend for stopping here, reading, and commenting.

    • profile image

      Vincent Moore 

      6 years ago

      This is a masterpiece, it not only shows the great respect you have for humanity but also the thoughtfulness for so many others. This was one of my favorite songs back in the day when I my brother and I carried each other through the abuse we grew up with as boys, we stood tall for one another and protected each others backs. I also had a close friend in another city when I was a young adult, we were blood brothers in so many ways. We are all brothers and sisters and should do our best to be kind, to share and to love one another, no matter the colors of our skins or cultural differences. We are all in this together and NOW is the time more so any in history that we HUMANS should take care not only of ourselves but our PLANET, for it's dying.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thank you Audrey. Sharing is what we do and we need to share freely. So glad you enjoyed.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi tillsontitan You are right that we are all brothers and are there for many people in our lives. We often carry their burdens or at least help others in time of need. Your hub is moving and provides a great message for all. Thanks for sharing this piece. Pinned. Blessings. Audrey

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      We're all in this together Teaches and helping each other should be our only choice, as you say, for the good of all!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I have always loved this song and your article has reminded me of the importance of extending charity. What a beautiful post. Our choices should make a difference - for the good of all.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I had to chuckle Colin, at your choice of Wooly Bully. I can remember as teenager riding in a friends convertible, sitting on the top of the retracted top, if you know what I mean, and riding around singing Wooly Bully!

      Bless you my friend for always being here and sharing. XOXOXO to you and your feline friends.

    • epigramman profile image


      6 years ago

      First time I heard it was in the Hollies song of the same name which musically and lyrically speaking was a bit of a departure for them and I believe it's their biggest hit ever.

      I thought it was a 60's slogan or jargon - the word heavy like the word cool has a double meaning and the word brother didn't necessarily mean blood kin - it could be a soldier in arms or a kindred spirit.

      I took the word heavy as in carrying a heavy load or burden.

      Always so nice to hang out with you Mary and I will stretch the minds at Facebook with a post of this provocative hub and now you have to do a dissection on the pop song Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, lol

      Sending to you my warmest wishes from Colin and his cat crew on a perfect summer's day by the lake at 3:09pm

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Oh Genna how right you are, it is OUR choices that make the difference. If only there were more with our thoughts. Hugs back to you.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      One of the best songs ever written, Mary, is your comment, “As we look to the future and wish for a better world we can start with our brother and what we can do for him.”

      We hear so often, “We don’t choose our families, we choose our friends.” But every one of us is related through our humanity and our faith that interconnects through one common thread: Brotherly love. It is our choices in life that make all the difference. To choose to deny help, respect and care for others is to deny ourselves. Thank you for this inspirational hub, Mary. Hugs, dear friend.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Not to worry my friend, I will keep it escrow for you ;)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til....Somebody shake me and wake me! I have allowed myself to wander aimlessly about HP for the past few months. I had to go to your site to MAKE SURE I wasn't missing your latest gifts to your readers.

      I'm glad to see that THIS is your latest and I already gave you my 2 cents. Hope you haven't spent it already. I may need to "borrow" it!!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I do believe it Pamela and I'm glad you enjoyed my 'short' hub.

      thelyricwriter, thank you too. Your votes are appreciated but more so your heartfelt comment. In many small communities that spirit is still alive and we can only hope it grows. Again, thank you for the wonderful comment.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      Til, voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting. Also shared. First, I've never heard of that story, but it's interesting that facts may have originated in the late 1800s, that's cool. Great article by the way! A brother is a brother, blood or not, and you can't take away from the bond that two people can share. These bonds are important, something that has been lost in society. I remember my grandpa telling me how neighbors helped one another back in the good ole days. I miss that and I hope it isn't gone forever. Awesome as always!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Mary, This hub said everything that needed to be said. I believe in the truth of what your wrote and you did an outstanding job of making your point. Awesome hub1

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Glad I could provide you with food for thought DDE! We sometimes just need to tweak what is in front of us.

      How true aviannovice. so much energy spent on hate and hurt when it is easier to love. Oh yeah, we all hope Karma comes around.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Mary, this is EXCELLENT work. We need to start helping each other out. Most people just need an encouraging word to keep going. Is that really too much to ask? What good does it do to hurt each other? Some like to hurt others, but will Karma ever come back and bite 'em good, and you know WHERE!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Nice song and such great meaning never looked at this way or even gave it a thought

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Wouldn't it be wonderful Whonu if everyone treated everyone like brothers? There is always hope and as long as the few remind the many we might get there.

      Thank you Faith. Your comments are always so uplifting and this one is no exception. If I could truly spread love and generate it what a wonderful thing that would be. God bless you my dear friend for all the faith you spread as well. Of course I thank you for the votes and share.

      Ah Manatita, I am a lady full of surprises ;) I am so glad to see you here my brother as I feel I let you down. Thank you for being a true brother.

      drbj you are most welcome. As usual, I believe I am preaching to the choir but perhaps others will read too.

      Maria you always know just what to say! Many hugs going your way my friend.

      Thank you Eddy. Many more for both of us, please God!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful share Mary and yes so refreshing. Here's to so many more to follow.


    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Uplifting, inspirational and beautifully framed around this classic, awesome song.

      Mary, your writing is straight from the heart and always the perfect length. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      A beautiful song, Mary, to supplement a beautiful message that we are all in this world together. Thank you for reminding us in such a lovely way.

    • manatita44 profile image


      6 years ago from london

      Yes. All are my brothers and sisters and I begin with you, my friend. I see that you like movies a lot. Cool. I look at Chinese ones these days. Full of meaning and life. Great quotes on love from you. Nice variety.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Yes, my lovely sister, Mary, I do remember that song and have always understood its meaning to be that we all belong to the same human race, so we are one, no matter our differences, no matter what! We must love as He tells us in His Word. Love is the answer! Thank you for the beautiful scripture on love and all of the wonderful quotes too, and for writing this beautiful hub of truth and love straight from your loving heart.

      This has blessed me this day to read this write.

      Keep letting your light so shine before men ...

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      God bless you, Faith Reaper

    • whonunuwho profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      My brother..sister..only if everyone saw this and not lived in such mistrust and anguish. Everyone is our brother or sister and we should treat them as such.Love is not so hard to spare and this is the most important thing we all can do..only if we could do this..the world would be a better place. Thanks for sharing this important message. whonu

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      Wow, This has got to be your best hub yet. What a message!

      Sharing this.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I guess Vinaya it is an American saying that has stayed in America. Universal brotherhood is something we all believe in and strive for. Thanks for reading.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal


      I had never heard "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" but your story is very thought provoking. I have deep faith in universal brotherhood.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thank you my brother. Michael, your comment showed up after I had answered the others. I am always so glad to see you here and appreciate your honesty and emotion. Hugs back.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Effer you make me smile and warm my heart. "...we are moved to lend our hands and our hearts" that says it all girl. If we can get everyone to do that, what a wonderful world it would be. You are never at my back GF but always at my side! Sending love your way.

      I can't imagine you with only one true friend Martie. A heart like yours draws beauty to it! Thank you for reading my accidentally published hub!

      Very true sheilamyers. Thanks for stopping by.

      Oh brother Frank...not corny at all, a little more on the emotional side than you are probably used to but so beautiful to hear from you. You truly touched my heart. I have no doubt you are filled with humanity my friend. God bless.

      Ah Bill, thank you for the shares and yes, if we love as we wish to be loved we can change the world!

      Billybuc, I have to admit your comment brought tears to my eyes. I also have to admit I hit t he publish button by mistake last night but after reading your comment there's no way I'd add a bunch of bs now! Your respect is an honor and I would never sully it!

      My dearest Joe, another person whose respect is tantamount! Thank you and Aloha my friend.

      So very welcome Martin.

      Btrb, your comment is as warm as your heart. You are so welcome and I am so honored to have you here!

      Ah, so you noticed Jan. Yes, if HP makes it an issue I will add more later, but I would prefer not to. I am so impressed with my friends acceptance of my message and so appreciate your visit, comment and votes. (I did add a few pictures though.)

      I like that phrase Paislee, "Christmas attitude"! It couldn't fit more perfectly. Thank you for leaving such a great comment.

    • cleaner3 profile image


      6 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      great hub Mary ... this is real and from the heart .. love it ..


    • PaisleeGal profile image

      Pat Materna 

      6 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Great hub Mary! Voted up++.

      Living the "Christmas attitude" all year is what we each one should be working toward.

      Well down Sista!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Oh my, I'm so moved after listening and singing along with that video. This is a very meaningful and well-done hub, tillsontitan, albeit not done as you had planned. I knew something was different because you don't do short hubs by any means. :) But this is fine the way it is, you can always add later. This message about loving everyone as our brother is so important. Thank you for this tribute to the military and to all humankind. Voted up, awesome, and beautiful.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I have to run out but will answer all these great comments as soon as I get back.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Love this hub! Love the message! Every burden is lighter when you have someone to help you carry it. Thank you for this genuine reminder! Up+ my friend.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      True, so true. Thank you for bringing us this.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state


      Soul in brevity...

      My love and respect,


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Besides the message, Mary, the best part of this hub is the length. No b.s. involved here; no filling in the spaces to reach the HP minimum of 1200 words....just a solid message of love and brotherhood. Well done! My respect for you just grew larger and I didn't think that was possible.


    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. One of my all-time favorite songs. It truly is timeless. And the message really is clear. If we all went through life with the attitude that we should love others the way we want to be loved the world would be a better place. Voted up, and shared everywhere.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      Making a path in life's street so that one brother or sister can walk through.. the decision is up to them to follow the path.. but it's their path nonetheless.. I love that song.. and we are all related by are religions, our need to exist so inmorder for all of us to live we hold out our hands and give them that hand up.. wow.. Im sounding so corney.. but this hub just triggered that element of humanity inside of me.. thank you for that Sister Til....:)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm with fpherj. I think it simply means helping other people carry their burdens while we try to help them work their way into a better place.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      I love this song! Even with only ONE true friend supporting me I feel strong and courageous enough to tackle any bull by the horns. But so scared when I am all alone compelled to cope with reality.

      I am blessed with many wonderful friends!

      Beautiful hub, Mary, and beautiful song :)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Tillie.....Wonderful song....we remember so well. Beautiful and inspirational phrase......which to me, means: We can love enough and care so compassionately for others, that no matter what struggles or troubles come into our lives, we are moved to lend our hands and our hearts, to carry one another through the trials and over the mountains, until life gets brighter and troubles are fewer. We are all sisters and brothers, as children of the Universe......and our existence is created to live in harmony with gratitude.

      To simplify....."I got your back, Girlfriend!"......UP+++


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