America the Beautiful Week is marked in the first full week of June to honor the song “America the Beautiful” and celebrate all patriotic Americans. This year, it is held from June 5 to 11. Can you imagine that the lyricist and the composer of ‘America the Beautiful’ never met before they died? This revered song was composed by Katharine Lee Bates and organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward. The song was a top contender for the United States official anthem and favored over ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ But, the latter was chosen as the national anthem in 1931.
History of America The Beautiful Week
‘America the Beautiful’ has a fascinating history, albeit a sad one for the composer, Samuel A. Ward, who never knew how famous his song would turn out to be. The lyrics were written in July 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates for a poem called “Pike Peaks.” At the time, Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, had taken a train to Colorado Springs to teach at Colorado College. According to historians, she was inspired by the majestic view of the Great Plains from the top of Pikes Peak with its view over the wheat fields of America’s heartland Kansas and penned down the poem at the original Antlers Hotel.
In 1895, the poem entitled “America” was published in “The Congregationalist” to celebrate the Fourth of July. It quickly resonated with the public, and musicians began writing melodies for it. The first known melody was composed by Silas Pratt after the poem was published. By 1900, about 75 different melodies had been written for the poem. In 1904, an amended version was released. In 1910, Samuel A. Ward — the organist and choir director at Grace Church, Newark — got the inspiration for the tune when he was on a ferry boat trip from Coney Island to his home in New York City. The tune was originally composed for the old hymn ‘O Mother Dear, Jerusalem,’ which he retitled ‘Materna.’ Bates’ poem and Ward’s music were combined and published in 1910 and titled ‘America the Beautiful.’
Numerous efforts, especially during the John F. Kennedy administration, were made to give ‘America the Beautiful’ national status. But none succeeded, as Americans were divided between their love for the song and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ In 1903, Ward passed on without knowing his music would gain national acclaim. But Bates got to enjoy fame before her death in 1929.
America The Beautiful Week timeline
Katherine Lee Bates writes her poem, “Pike Peaks,” in her hotel room at Antlers Hotel.
Bates’ poem appears in “The Congregationalist” as “America” to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Numerous musicians publish their unique melodies for “America.”
Ward’s tune for ‘Materna’ is combined with Bates’ lyrics to become ‘America the Beautiful.’
America The Beautiful Week FAQs
Why is ‘America the Beautiful’ not the national anthem?
Before 1931, ‘America the Beautiful’ was a contender for the national anthem. But it failed to be officially recognized as most Americans prefer ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Also, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is a song much beloved by the military, especially the Navy. That gives it an added advantage over ‘America the Beautiful’ as the national anthem.
What was ‘America the Beautiful’ written about?
Bates wrote the poem about the amazing sights she encountered during her trip to Pikes Peak, Colorado.
Where did Kathy Lee Bates write ‘America the Beautiful?’
Kathy Lee Bates wrote the poem in her hotel room at the original Antlers Hotel in Colorado. That was during her summer lecture series at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
America The Beautiful Week Activities
Learn the lyrics to ‘America the Beautiful’
‘America the Beautiful’ is one of the easiest patriotic songs to learn, much more than the national anthem. It only consists of four verses, each made up of simple words. Check online for the lyrics to the song and watch its performances by different artists to quickly learn the song.
Do your rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’
There can never be enough rendition of one song. If you have a good voice, you can do your interpretation. Once you know the lyrics by heart, you can record your version using your phone and upload it to sites like SoundCloud and YouTube. If you want the recording to be high quality, you will need a laptop, a digital audio workstation program, and a microphone.
Celebrate the patriots in your community
If you know of individuals that continually display American values and play a key role in your community, you can celebrate them during America the Beautiful Week. A thank you, a shoutout on social media or in local newspapers, or a gift can go a long way in making the person’s day extra special.
5 Facts About America
Its capital wasn’t always Washington D.C.
Before the capital was moved to Washington D.C. in 1970, New York City was the capital of the United States.
The Statue of Liberty isn’t in N.Y.C.
The Statue of Liberty is technically in Jersey City, New Jersey, but New York state has territorial jurisdiction over it.
Uncle Sam was a real person
Uncle Sam was the nickname given to Sam Wilson, a meat packer in New York who fought in the American Revolution.
Alaska was sold to the U.S.
Russia sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million in 1867.
Most $100 bills are outside the U.S.
Two-thirds of American $100 bills can be found outside the United States.
Why We Love America The Beautiful Week
It celebrates the beauty of America
The lyrics of ‘America the Beautiful’ are an ode to the country’s beauty. Its inspiration came from the breathtaking sights that Bates saw as her train traveled through the Kansas countryside.
It’s second only to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’
‘America the Beautiful’ is a song loved by almost all of America and was a serious contender for the national anthem and the national hymn. Although it was never officially acknowledged, many people consider it the second national anthem of the United States.
The song has been performed countless times
There have been various renditions, performances, and remixes of ‘America the Beautiful’ since it was first published in 1895. The song has been performed by notable artists, including Ray Charles, Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and Jennifer Lopez.
America The Beautiful Week dates