Friday, September 14, 2001

Reflections on 'America the Beautiful'

Katharine Lee Bates wrote in 1893 about our beautiful country and all its God-given glory in "America the Beautiful." Ever since I was in elementary school and began learning its lyrics, it has been one of my favorite songs. Of course our national anthem is equally as grand. But to sing about the natural beauties of our country, all our goodliness, good neighborliness, greatness in liberty, law, richness of spirit and ability to be successful in enterprise-is even more inspiring for me. Below I've explored the lyrics in light of our horrific tragedy on September 11th, 2001.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

Sadly, this past week, our spacious "friendly" skies were used against us by a group of people who were jealous of all that America stands for.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

We are a blessed nation, and are graced with a river of patriotism that runs deeper than any hot- or cold-blooded American might've ever suspected. Never has our country been so attacked. As a result, many have been witness to an outpouring of brotherly and sisterly love for friend, neighbor and stranger. American's across the country have been coming together and coming to New York to lend a hand to help, a shoulder to cry on and so many other ways in an effort to help.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stem impassioned - stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

Since our pilgrim heritage we are known as a nation that fought for freedom: religious freedom, freedom from over-taxation and many other personal and political freedoms. Across the wilderness, across the countryside, we are a nation that stands for and stresses freedom. Our pilgrim feet, our American feet, our citizens, are so passionate to the very core of our beings that we have fought hard and bitterly here and abroad for what our country represents. We are being told we will be doing so once again.

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Our great nation is one in which we believe God (whomever this is for you) mends all our nations flaws and confirms the soul of our nation in self-control (we are not out-of-control in how we deal with any issue). This is especially apparent in the thoughtful, methodical, exacting and intelligent way our leaders are proceeding with statements about the tragedy, our reaction and the actions that we'll take. Our liberty is inherent in our laws.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!

We are a beautiful nation because our country was founded and fought by heroes who loved their country more than their own lives. This was proven again on September 11th with the reports of the few men on the United Airlines flight 93 who apparently attacked the vicious hijackers and risked their lives to save hundreds more at a fourth target. In this selfless act they demonstrated mercy for a far greater number of Americans than their own lives.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

America is often seen as a promise-land, a land of milk and honey and streets paved with gold. And compared to many other countries, these stereotypes are true. Our nation is so blessed that our riches are refined and we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world. We are one of the most successful nations in the world, so successful that our success is noble-others strive for it. Our advancements in technology, science, the arts, human rights and many other areas are nearly divine compared to many other countries. Of course, we're not perfect and there are many people who would contest our actual wealth, our true success these days and argue vehemently about our "divine gains." However, coming from the perspective of how far we've come since the founding of our nation and the advancements we've made, our nation is one of true greatness in all these areas. So much so that it had struck a chord of pure evil and hatred in a man and an organization intent on trying to take it down.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

Our patriotic dream has withstood the test of time. Since 1776 and our revolutionary break from England, between 1860 and 1865 and our internal strife with the Civil War, during the 1960s segregation disintegration and the 1970s conflict over Vietnam, we have had some strife within. Yet, ultimately and when pushed, Americans are united and stand together. This patriot dream has lasted over the years to see our nation as gleaming and sparkly with our magnificent cities. And the human tears that have been shed over the 225 years of our nation's life thus far have not dimmed the gleam of our cities and our beautiful nation. Especially this week, we've all shed many tears, and yet New York City, Washington DC and all our cities will continue to shine brightly. We will not let the inhuman destruction that we've experienced dampen our spirits nor blur our vision.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

In spite of, or despite, the unfair, barbaric way we had been treated, we pray to God to grace our nation until everyone is as right and fair as the earth, the air and seas are true and good. Seeing pure evil taking over our innocent, benevolent technological advancements (airplanes) and wreaking havoc in our airspace (our skies), so that our earth has become devastated (with these crashes), our nation has been in prayer for God's grace on us.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

More prayers have gone out asking for God (however she/he/it is embodied for you) to give us grace until the vicious thinking of terrorists be invaded and destroyed whether it by soldier on foot, hands and knees or (since we have the capabilities) machine.

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!

For our freedom, for our tales of glory of liberation, for all the freedoms we enjoy, we've had to expend many precious lives. We're being told more lives will be lost as our nation's leaders prepare us for the first war of the 21st century. And this is the price we have and will pay for our continued freedoms. And yet many of these freedoms and conveniences we so luxuriously enjoy will be rescinded as our nation experiences a backlash into more security concerns.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

Among the prayers called out over this past week, there have been prayers for our nation and its safety. We will continue to ask for God's grace until we no longer have selfish, inhumane barbarians staining our great flag, magnificent buildings, grand Nation and all that these represent for their petty, warped goals.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Again, a prayer for God to bless us until we once again have noble leaders keeping us safe and we can experience the jubilant, heady days of prosperity, peace and love for our nation, one another and the world at large.


To read more thoughts (personal and reflective), please visit where we have also listed a short list of sites with more resource links.

God Bless You All. God Bless America. My deepest prayers go out to the victims of all the crashes, their families, to those still missing and their families. To the survivors I hope we can slowly heal our wounds and take this horrific tragedy to be stronger individually and as a nation. We can never forget and must always remember so we prohibit history from repeating itself.

Most of you have come to expect this newsletter on Friday's before noon, but I have been experimenting with a new distribution date-Monday mornings. If you have any opinions on which time you prefer, let me know and I'll see if I will continue as usual or try something new.

Don't forget to buy stocks and show your support for our nation and belief in its economic strength.