O beautiful for spacious skies
On the night of March 4, 1776, troops under the command of Gen. George Washington prepared for a cataclysmic gamble. American soldiers, under the cloak of night, would take control of the Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston and place cannons there. The British would be forced to abandon Boston. But could 2,000 armed men and tons of supplies be placed upon the Heights without the British attacking? Only the most fortuitous weather could guarantee American success.
For amber waves of grain
Capt. Daniel Shays, a farmer and veteran of the Revolutionary War, would not tolerate the unfairness and chaos of the new regime. Victimized by high taxes, lack of a stable currency and unelected debtor judges, Shays led a revolt. In 1787, Shays' Rebellion was defeated, but he was soon pardoned by Gov. John Hancock. Would the anger of Shays and his followers have any effect on the creation of a new, more enlightened form of national government?
For purple mountain majesties
In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates vacationed in Colorado. Gazing up at the triumphal, towering Pike's Peak, Bates felt inspiration flow through her. "It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into my mind," Bates would later recall. She took out her notebook and began to write: "O beautiful for spacious skies … "
Above the fruited plain
It was the age of agriculture. In 1900, farmers constituted 38 percent of the American work force. Well over 5.5 million farms existed across the country; America exported over $900 million per year worth of agricultural products, or 58 percent of total American exports. Around the country, 4-H clubs began to spring up. But as America became more and more of a world power, as population continued to climb, could production continue to keep pace?
Sgt. Alvin York crept stealthily up to the machine gun nest. By the time the Germans spotted him, it was too late to stop the American. When one German fired at York, he immediately shot him. But the shots attracted the attention of surrounding German gunners, who killed nine of York's men. York proceeded to almost single-handedly capture over 130 German soldiers and kill an additional 28 before the fighting subsided. Said York, "A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do."
God shed his grace on thee