Reflections on America the Beautiful

I recently heard a very moving solo rendition of America the Beautiful. I will share some my reflections on America the Beautiful – the song and my Country.

Verse 1

Oh, 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.

I have a vivid memory of a night spent in the wilderness of Wyoming. Above me was a full dome of bright stars. There were no buildings or mountains or even many trees to block the view. There were no city lights to dim the brightness of the stars. I stood in awe of the vastness of the sky and the earth.

I recall driving along a highway past fields of ripening grain as far as I could see. I have see the sun shine on oceans on both sides of our vast land. I am personally privileged to live surrounded by majestic mountains, some purple in the distance, and others so close I can enjoy them any time I go outside my house.

I am amazed by the grandeur and beauty of the landscapes throughout this vast country. I appreciate the variety of land and climate which allow for bounteous harvests of food to sustain and prosper her people.

Verse 2

Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare of freedom beat across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

I have a rich legacy left to me by many “pilgrim feet”. I claim some real “pilgrims” who ventured across the ocean on the Mayflower and other early ships. Many other ancestors, generation after generation, left established homes and traveled to each new frontier. With courage, determination and hard work they built homes and established communities in the wilderness, built on principles of faith and freedom.

Verse 3

Oh, beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.

I am grateful for all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who willingly gave their lives to secure and maintain freedom for all of us. I am proud to be the posterity of Veterans of the Revolution and of successive wars fought to preserve freedom.

Respect for US Memorials

Verse 4

Oh, beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!

I am grateful to patriots who sacrificed, not just for that which would have made their own lives better, but looking ahead desired to establish a better world for us, their posterity. They had the foresight to see the larger picture and long term results of their efforts.

The line about “alabaster cities” invokes memories of 9-11 and the many tears shed while our communities stood strong through attack, trial and adversity. We Americans regroup, rebuild and beautify from ashes with resolve born of heartache.

America! America! God shed his grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

The repeated refrain of this song returns us to God. It reflects gratitude for how He has blessed this country. I cannot review or study our history without seeing the hand of God. How could a few small colonies overcome such a great Empire without grace? I see the hand of God in raising up great leaders who inspired others to pursue a noble cause and persevere against all odds. May we never forget that God had a hand in the establishment of this government of the people, by the people and for the people, built upon God given rights.

This refrain is also a prayer, reminding us of our need for His continuing grace. He can compensate for our failings and flaws. He can consecrate our efforts so that our successes are noble and blessed.

The crowning glory of our goodness is our brotherhood. Greatness comes from unity among good people. I fear that we are losing that brotherhood. We must always remember that we are first Americans, before being any kind of hyphenated Americans, or partisan Americans or even global citizens. We have a common bond of principles as well as history. Our success as a people comes when we work together so all prosper.

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