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Independence Day was the beginning of a fun holiday weekend, with family and friends gathered together to eat, play games, go swimming, watch the latest FIFA game, and talk. The best time of all was at dusk on July fourth when we all piled in the car, drove to a good spot, and watched the fireworks. I was surprised and pleased when my puppy, Rocky, sat calmly beside me and watched the colorful display. Thunder upsets him and gets him barking, but the fireworks didn’t bother him at all. Perhaps it had something to do with my mood.
As I watched the fireworks, the song America the Beautiful kept running through my mind. Katharine Lee Bates (an English professor at Wellesley College in Boston) wrote this poem in 1893, inspired by the beauty she saw during a trip from Boston to Colorado. It was first published two years later in The Congregationalist in commemoration of the Fourth of July. While Samuel A. Ward (a church organist and choirmaster) was on a ferryboat trip from Coney Island back to New York City during the summer of 1882, the music came to him, and he asked his friend to lend him his shirt cuff so he could immediately write it down. Samuel’s music was first combined with Katharine’s poem in 1910 and published as America the Beautiful.
This song describes so well the splendid beauty of this country, the sacrifices of those who came before us and paved the way for us to have the amazing blessings we enjoy today, and the great debt we owe those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. Even with all its faults, this is still a great and beautiful land. How grateful I am for America.

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 impassion’d 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!

American flag

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