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January 30, 2007 | 5 Comments

Garrison, Garrison, Garrison!
I find it difficult to believe that someone as well-read as yourself would persist in singing our beloved, America the Beautiful, with incorrect words! The phrase is "for purple mountain (no "s") majesties", and in the final verse it is "for patriot (again, no "s") dream". I beg, beseech, implore you to read Lynn Sherr's wonderful book about the song which tells "The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation's Favorite Song". It's mine, too, and since you're in a position to influence the singing public, I hope you'll help everyone to get it right! Thanks!

Pamela Y.
Westerly, R.I.

I don't sing "America the Beautiful" from a text, my dear. I learned it in the third grade, and that was a long long time ago. When I sing the verses about the heroes proved in liberating strife and the pilgrims' feet (or is it pilgrim feet?) I sing the same refrain at the end of each one ---- "America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea," although that's not how Katherine Lee Bates wrote it, and I'm well aware of that.

I imagine that many of the two-thousand who sang the song sang it your way, the true and correct way, without the slight sibilance, and others sang it my way, and maybe some sang it another way. This happens in life.


Garrison made a very ill-tempered and ill-considered reply to a perfectly sensible letter from someone who loves the song equally well.

Does Garrison take this position that grammatical errors are okay if two thousand people get into the habit of making the error? I have a feeling he wouldn't. If there is value in using to, too, and two, correctly, there is also value in getting the lyrics and grammar of "America The Beautiful" straight.

Congratulations, GK, for maintaining your individuality, and showing the way for the rest of us who are sometimes too weak in the knees to stand up for ourselves. It is always easier to fall into the mold that others find to be the 'correct' way. But it is another thing altogether to maintain and stick up for your right to call it as you see it (or learned it, in this case).

Your third grade teacher is smiling down upon you at this very moment.

YEA Garrison and third grade teachers everywhere! Some of my favorite songs I learned and still remember, sort of, from the formative elementary years. Singing from the heart is true singing and everyone can do that. In my version I change the gender and sing out "America, America! God shed HER light on thee. and crown thy good in sisterhood from from sea to shining sea..." I love it that way and it surprises some people. I am proud that my sons have grown up singing it that way. May we all be able to improvise and add our own two sense and spirit!! thanks, keep going Garrison... we will be listening. YEA

Algernon: Jeez! I didn't think GK was rude. Take a chill pill already. Or better yet, have a flower.

Well said, GK - thank you for refusing to jump into Pamela's straitjacket...

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