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by David F. Coppedge

Everyone to whom I tell the following story has the same reaction: mouth gapes open, eyes bulge, and after a stunned pause, the exclamation "you've got to be kidding."  Another pause.  "It figures."

First, let's have a quiz.  Which of the following songs is acceptable in modern society?

Song Number One:

I'm just a little piece of tin,
Nobody knows what shape I'm in.  
I've got a horn and a running board;
I'm not a Chevy, I'm not a Ford. 
Bang, bang, rattle, rattle, 
crash, beep beep.  
Bang, bang, rattle, rattle, 
crash, beep beep.

Song Number Two:

O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain; 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the fruited plain!  
America!  America!  
God shed His grace on thee!  
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Any questions?  Now to my story.  I was on a Creation Safari at the San Diego Wild Animal Park one summer at a campout sponsored by the Park.  At this special event, you get to sleep overnight in tents near the animals.  Overall, it was a delightful, educational experience.  The event was nicely organized and well run.  The last optional event at night, after the s'mores were passed around, was a campfire sing.

Requests from the group were invited, with the caveat that the songs had to be "politically correct"; that is, no animals could get killed in the song, and the song could not promote sectarian views.  The talented, affable songleader chuckled, "That probably rules out two-thirds of the good songs you know, right?"  With this warning in mind, we proceeded to sing assorted trivial nonsense like Song Number One.

During a lull, I raised my hand and asked, "Can we sing America the Beautiful?"  The songleader paused.  She turned her microphone off and walked over to me.  Quietly and politely she informed me, "I'm sorry, sir, but we can't sing that particular song because of some of the words in it.  It mentions God."

Being a man of peace and reason, I did not make a scene, but my mind was flooded with disbelief, sorrow and even anger. America the Beautiful not allowed?  Where am I, in Communist China?  The songleader seemed genuinely sorry, but said she had to abide by the Director's express guidelines.  I could imagine the reasons for the Park's policy, from fear of the ACLU to the rise of postmodernist evolutionary rationalism.  Perhaps, even, it could be argued this is an international park, not a proper forum for Americana, despite the fact that we did sing that vacuous ballad written by the pot-smoking pinko leftist radical Pete Seeger, This Land Is My Land, whose pointless banalities could be sung by anybody from moral perverts to veterans without offending anyone.  But we must not utter the dreaded "G" word in public!

Sometimes one little incident symbolizes how far our country has gone in rejecting its heritage.  We are increasingly finding it offensive to even mention God, prayer, faith and now patriotism outside of church buildings, even at private organizations like the Wild Animal Park.  This is NOT the way it was just a few years ago.

The Park's policy throws out not only America the Beautiful despite its non-sectarian reference to God, Who could arguably be identified any way the singer chooses, but most other great American songs, such as  God Bless America: "Land that I love: stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above;"   America:  "Our Father's God, to Thee, Author of liberty, to Thee we sing: long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light, protect us by Thy might, great God our King" (how long since you've heard that one?).  Even the second verse of our National Anthem disqualifies according to this Park's policies and procedures manual: Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"  What is next to go?  The motto on our currency?  The Pledge of Allegiance?

Great music is not written by the faithless.  The soul-stirring anthems of America came from hearts aflame with devotion to causes greater than themselves, "who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life."  Music with spirit and high ideals will not fit through the turnstile of political correctness.  What remains is trite, pointless, dead.  The majestic harmony of "sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing" degenerates into the cacophany of "bang, bang, rattle, rattle, crash, beep beep."

If for no other reason than history or proper education, we should uphold these magnificent songs whose eloquent poetry and grasp of language uplifts and exalts all that is noble in our country.  American history, music and literature keeps in our minds the ideals of our predecessors, and the great sacrifice they paid for the freedoms we enjoy.  I fear that an entire generation of young people are becoming clueless about our spiritual heritage due to liberals' fear of offending some minority with the "G" word.  As a result, we are becoming a nation of petty, petulant ingrates with plastic hearts, bred on triviality, moldable by demagogues, and incapable of the faith and will to defend our country from tyrants.

In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates stood on Pike's Peak and overlooked our great land, with its spacious skies, purple mountains, and fruited plains clearly visible all around her.  She thought of the thousands who had spent their lives and shed their blood to keep it free.  In a surge of inspiration, she penned the elegant, graceful words of America the Beautiful.  As I recount them, I stand with her, there on the mountain.  My heart swells; my eyes moisten.  I sing out heartily, thoughtfully, thankfully over this magnificent land, and the freedom, under God, for which it stands:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

America!  America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

America!  America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream,
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

America!  America!
God shed His grace on Thee!
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Liberals, get a life.