Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies

We all know the words.  At least the first verse.  Some can go on to the second verse:

Oh 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.

But it is the third verse that we should sing today. 

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.

This is the verse sung so often by Ray Charles.  Perhaps you can hear him in your mind.  It is his signature recognition of those who serve our country.  Here is a vintage performance.

A post script thought.  "America the Beautiful" was written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates  Bates was professor of English literature at Wellesley College.  She was in the vanguard of liberated women.  She was educated, travelled widely, supported herself well and lived in a committed partnership with economist Katharine Coman for 25 years.  Sung in patriotic honor of our armed forces by a blind African American, "America the Beautiful" transcends the squabbling and smallness of much current political discourse.

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