America the Beautiful
by Brooks A. Agnew, PhD
America, the beautiful. Those words can bring a choral hum to the mind and a tear of pride to the eye. But do we really stop to consider what it means? Amber waves of grain? Blue yonders and brave men and women defending the homeland? Is America the beautiful because of its industrial might or its exploring heart? Is it because of the majestic mountains and the opalescent oceans painting awe across the canvas of our souls?
What makes America the beautiful? She is not the rolling hills, kneaded between steel fingers of farm machinery and left to rise green and golden toward the harvest moon stretching as far as the eye can imagine. She is not red canyons, or blonde endless deserts, or even the cloudships gliding over snow-covered peaks against dark blue skies.
She is not made of steel and towers built with stocks and bonds. She is not technology and megabytes of light-knowledge blazing through cables and mice and men. She is not factories or offices full of paper and software, or roads pulsing with internal combustion. She is not football, or home runs, or record laps, or even elections. She is something much more and much more eternal than these.
Let me tell you about America the beautiful. Though I may have traveled further than most men have dreamed, it took my arrival in Odessa, Washington to truly make the idea come alive. There are just enough homes, a breeze from every direction at the same time, and the right amount of trains to reassure you’re not too far from the rest of the world. The night sky here even seems to have a few extra stars. Discovering a morning breakfast table where one could shake dice for a biscuit, or where peanut butter is boldly added to coffee, or where leftover pizza is turned into the most amazing omelet ever consumed might almost cause one to almost overlook the one thing that makes America the beautiful.
The people. It is the pulpit aflame with righteousness. It is the helping hand of another. It is the laugh of ribaldry and the council of an elder. It is the loaned tools and the broom brothers who help shine a new project. It is the heart and soul of brotherhood and sisterhood that makes America the beautiful. It is a team of volunteers building an award-winning city float for regional parades. It is the teacher and the student, the public servant and the beautiful postmasters. It is the passion for progress and the hope of the future by the people. It is the marching band and the eight-man football team. It is the foursomes and the fivesomes and the peaceful enjoyment of competition on a golfcourse with no water traps. It is the bingo for turkeys and pies, and the auction of quilts and sausage and local wines. It is the joy in watching old combines fulfill the measure of their creation in the mud of a demolition derby. And let us not forget the most amazing form of basketball ever witnessed; on donkeys.
I found America the beautiful in the people of Odessa, Washington. This is the land of pioneers and workers of the Earth who feed the world with their bounties. It is the land of hope and courage and faith. It is the land of personal achievement of personal dreams.
It is a land of friendship and peace. God bless you, America the beautiful.