Happy 4th of July

Posted on 07/04/2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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Today is the 4th of July and is the day we celebrate American Independence. There will be lots of flag waving, speeches, fire works and food. While celebrating the 4th with family and friends at a back yard cookout, parade or political rally, I hope everyone takes a few moments to reflect on what they consider America and why they are celebrating.

I am the last person in the world to be a “flag waver”. The notion of wrapping myself in an American flag and singing “Old Glory” is sort of repulsive to me for many reasons. I have watched the neocons turn patriotism into an evil thing actually and use it as an excuse to condone genocide and needless war. I do not celebrate the America we are but the American Dream I believe our great country can be.

We have all heard and song “America the Beautiful” but I wonder how many have actually read the words.

“America the Beautiful – 1913
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!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America ! America !
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life !
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

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
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!”

Katharine Lee Bates wrote the original version in 1893. She wrote the 2nd version in 1904. Her final version was written in 1913.

Here is a note from Katharine Lee Bates:

“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

The song speaks of a dream. A wondrous dream where Americans work together to make this a great country for all and not for selfish gain. It speaks of freedom for people and striving to make America the best it can be without restrictions based on faith, creed, color or any other man made barrier. America the Beautiful speaks of working to make this Country of ours all it can be and working endlessly to improve the world. This is my dream for America and why I do what I do in politics and civil rights. Instead of singing the National Anthem with it’s images of War, I will sing America the Beautiful with it’s dream and images of Hope for a better America.

Celebrate this day and the freedoms we have and cherish. Use today to rekindle the fire and resolve to continue the battle to create America the Beautiful for all Americans and for future generations.

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