America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story behind Our Nations's Favorite Song

By Lynn Sherr | Go to book overview
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THE MEANING

Sure, you know what it means. That's why the song is such a favorite. But this one gets even better when you look more closely.

"I can't read t.he lines through without swallowing hard," wrote a Massachusetts woman to the author, one in a stream of ecstatic letters. A New York City school superintendent confessed to Katharine Lee Bates that after hearing 628 students sing "America the Beautiful" at a graduation exercise, he wept. "I am not given to the shedding of tears, but the thrill of the sentiments of this composition on that occasion produced that effect on me.... That is a hymn which stirs a great emotion. It is an ode which voices high aspiration. I thank you and congratulate you."

"Look! Look, gentlemen! ... Purple mountains! Spacious skies! Fruited plains! ... Is someone writing this down?"

-71-

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