November 22, 2022

Would it be that "America the Beautiful" was really America the beautiful

Would it be that "America the Beautiful" was really America the beautiful

by Hal Brown

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All the photos below are mine. Click to enlarge them.


I looked with dismay at a map of 2022 House election results in a HuffPost article which had an interactive red/blue map.  The article was featured as the main story on their website:

It was the map not so much the expected loss of all but two members of the House losing their runs for reelection that got to me.

I live in western Oregon which is a Democratic area that occasionally elects Republican candidates but is mostly blue. 

My partner and I enjoy exploring the lovely countryside around where we live in a Portland suburb. 

From the rolling hills of Oregon's wine country (above) to the small towns with unique restaurants like The Scream'n Chicken in Gaston...

... to the Washington side of the mighty Columbia River we find both beauty and reminders that in some ways we are in alien territory. I took these photos on Washington's Rt. 14 along the Columbia River:

Below: These are in the town of Aurora which is known for its antique stores all in historic homes. We often eat at The Old Colony Pub there. These are two houses in Aurora which are across the street from each other.

We sometime find ourselves in hard-core MAGA areas. Once in a small town we ate in a restaurant where we could overhear a group of men debating which kinds of guns they preferred. 

In our own district five the highly qualified liberal Democrat t Jamie McLeod-Skinner lost a tight race to Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Thankfully Democrat Tina Kotek won a squeaker beating far-right candidate Christine Drazen and would-be spoiler independent Betsy Johnson for governor. This is a result of all the right-wing voters residing not only in the very rural parts of the state but also in some of our suburban areas.

Back to the national map...

Looking at it filled me with sadness. So much red and so little blue.  I live in western Oregon, clearly a Democratic area. 

Population centers around the country are blue but many beautiful scenic rural areas vote 60/40 GOP  

The verses of America the Beautiful came to mind. It is a song I think would be a better national anthem than a song about a War of 1812 battle and the US flag.  

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 ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

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

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry 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. 

An anonymous blogger in a 2010 post said it as well as I could


This is no new movement.  Although not the National Anthem, America The Beautiful is just as widely recognized by Americans, and has been called the most beloved of all American patriotic songs.   Quoting Lynn Sherr, ABC News correspondent and author of the book America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation’s Favorite Song says this,  “I think it’s simple, I think it’s emotional, and I think it talks about a country, a land and its people — not just about a flag, not just about a battle.  It doesn’t talk about conquest. It talks about the possibilities of this nation.”

America The Beautiful was written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates – a thirty-three year old English professor from Wellesley College – as she traveled by train across our great nation.   Her inspiration was her awe for what she witnessed, very much like Francis Scott Key almost a century before.

Perhaps the preference comes down to whether you’re a “spacious skies” or a “bombs bursting in air” kind of person.

I'm a spacious skies kind of person. I wish more Americans were.

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