Respect, Compassion, Brotherhood
During the years I taught elementary school music, one of my favorite months was November. I loved singing patriotic songs for Veterans Day and later in the month singing songs about turkeys, American history and the first Thanksgiving.
Katherine Lee Bates wrote the words to America the Beautiful after a trip to Pikes Peak in Colorado, near the end of the 19th century. Only one road to the top, it was so narrow the horse and wagon almost fell off the mountain. After she arrived at the top, the view was so inspiring, Katherine thought the risk was worth it. When my students learned what inspired her to write America the Beautiful, they loved visualizing the sights she saw. Phrases such as “amber waves of grain” and “fruited plain” sometimes produced puzzled looks. I kept a book on hand in my classroom with photos to help them understand.
Katherine Lee Bates believed Americans had a fundamental faith in brotherhood. Speeches dating back to the late 19th century of leaders of that day include quotes that America is great because America is good. In my opinion that goodness was founded on a moral belief of kindness, compassion and respect for others that we are neglecting to teach our young people today. Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake forgave you. Ephesians 4:32, KJV
My dad was a World War II Veteran, landing on the beaches of Normandy, later marching into France and Germany. He taught me the importance of patriotism and respect. As a teacher, I passed that on to my students. It breaks my heart to see the division within our country. If my dad was alive, it would break his heart, too. Although America is struggling, hopefully we can find our way back. Our children are looking to us for guidance. Let’s not let them down.
America the Beautiful
by Katherine Lee Bates
Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesty above the fruited plain.
America! America! God shed his grace on thee.
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
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