America the Beautiful
(Katherine Lee Bates)

The true national anthem of the United States is not the war song "The Star Spangled Banner" that we all sing before the football game, but the peaceful and abundant "America the Beautiful." Some have argued that this song's sentiments conceal the ugly realities of slavery, injustice to Native Americans, and exploitation of Chinese coolies and immigrants in general. Still, unlike some other places in the world, we try to improve ourselves year by year; and in many ways we have succeeded. Due diligence is required to maintain these improvements. In these days of sectarian strife, when to our shame our President places himself above the law and defends his right to torture prisoners without mercy, it is good to remember some of the ideals we, as a people, aspire to.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self the country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

These verses from the final version (1913) are in the public domain and were copied from The Falmouth Historical Society, which maintains a museum at the former home of Katharine Lee Bates on Main Street in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

11-Mar-2007