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Hall of History

​​Two Brothers History

"The famous “He ain’t heavy Father, he’s my brother” Boys Town motto and “Two Brothers” statue got its start in 1919 with nine-year-old Howard Loomis. Howard’s mother was unable to care for him, and asked if he could live at the Home. Father Flanagan said yes and asked Howard to follow him on a tour of his new home. When Howard stood up Father Flanagan realized for the first time the little boy had heavy braces on his legs the result of polio. The Home was not equipped to handle special needs children and he soon discovered no other children’s homes in Omaha wanted to take in this boy. Father Flanagan worked with the older boys in the Home to develop a system where Howard was able to move around the Home.

Each day an older boy would be assigned to help carry Howard on their backs up and down the stairs. When the boys went on picnics the older boys would carry Howard so he could also enjoy the festivities. On one of these picnics, the famous image of Rueben Granger carrying Howard Loomis was taken. As the story goes Father Flanagan asked one of the older boys if it was too much of a strain to carry Howard everywhere. The boy replied “He ain’t heavy Father, he’s my brother.”

In 1941 Father Flanagan was reading a magazine and saw the image of the two brothers standing before a war torn city with the caption “He ain’t heavy Mister, he’s my brother.” Father Flanagan’s thoughts went immediately to the 1920’s image and the memory of Howard Loomis. Father sought permission from the publisher of the magazine to use the image for his boy’s home. By 1946 the Two Brothers image was the official brand of the Home with the phrase “He ain’t heavy Father, he’s my brother.”

In 1947 Father Flanagan commissioned the artist Ira Corral to create a Two Brothers statue using Indiana limestone. The completed sculpture was based upon the original painting of the Two Brothers by the artist Louis Bonhajo, which hangs today in the Hall of History

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