Photos by Bill Youngs
One of these, "America the Beautiful" or simply "America" was written in 1893 by Katherine Lee Bates, an English Professor at Wellesley College. She had seen much of the country during a recent trip to Colorado, and she is said to have composed "America" while looking over the countryside from Pike's Peak.
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
At various times in the more than 100 years that have elapsed since the song was written, particularly during the John F. Kennedy administration, there have been efforts to give "America the Beautiful" legal status either as a national hymn, or as a national anthem equal to, or in place of, "The Star-Spangled Banner," but so far this has not succeeded. Proponents prefer "America the Beautiful" for various reasons, saying it is easier to sing, more melodic, and more adaptable to new orchestrations while still remaining as easily recognizable as "The Star-Spangled Banner." Some prefer "America the Beautiful" over "The Star-Spangled Banner" due to the latter's war-oriented imagery. Others prefer "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the same reason. While that national dichotomy has stymied any effort at changing the tradition of the national anthem, "America the Beautiful" continues to be held in high esteem by a large number of Americans.
So much for words. While walking on a country road in the palouse near my home in Cheney, Washington, I felt that beauty in simple things: thistles beside the road, cultivated fields, groves of trees, farm steeds, a flock of birds, the setting sun and the rising moon. Here is how "America the Beautiful" looked in my neighborhood last Friday evening:
(You know you want to!)
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-- Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Resplendent in Greens and Yellows