I’m still feeling rather 4th of July-patriotic at the moment. I thoroughly enjoyed taking a good break from the world of Madison budget politics to spend time with my family and commemorate the birth of our nation. Although the weekend was full of particularly patriotic moments, the most poignant one for me occurred in church when we sang America the Beautiful–all 4 verses.
It had been a long time since I sang/read all of the verses and by the end of the song I could barely form the words–I was entirely overcome by the patriotic passion, devout faith and incredible insight contained in the song.
I’ve seen Pikes Peak, where Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write her poem, but I’ve never been to the summit. The first verse, however, describes what Katharine must have seen from the top with breathtaking eloquence. It was the refrain of the second verse, though, that really got to me.
- America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;
- Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
Katharine was clearly aware of her country’s flaws and wary of its excesses–no poetic license here–and yet she loved America dearly, passionately. She also understood our form of government extraordinarily well, “Confirm…thy liberty in law!” A more concise, accurate depiction of the representative republic you could not find.
Verse 3 and several lines from verse 4 are particularly poignant:
O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Read the entire poem/song here.
Amazing. Incredible. Despite our nation’s many failures, the faith, sacrifice, beauty and dedication of those who came before us (and those who live among us today)–who dreamed and labored for our liberty–stand in stark relief to everything else.
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!