1981 18¢ Flag Over Field
US #1890 – Amber Waves of Grain flag stamp

On July 22, 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful.

In 1893, 33-year-old college professor Katharine Lee Bates traveled to Colorado to teach a short summer English course. Along the way, she stopped at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the alabaster “White City” moved her. And as she rode the train through America’s heartland she was awestruck by the expansive wheat fields.

1981 18¢ Flag Over Seacoast
US #1891 – Sea to Shining Sea flag stamp

As Bates later recalled, “One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

1981 18¢ Purple Mountain Majesties
US #1893 – Purple Mountain Majesties flag stamp

When Bates approached Colorado Springs, she noticed how the granite of Pikes Peak gave the mountains a purple hue. As she stood on the summit of the mountain, a poem came to mind. She returned to her room at the Antlers Hotel and immediately wrote it down. She initially titled the poem, “Pikes Peak.”

1981-82 Flag's Grain,Sea,Mountains 3v
US #1890//93 – all three 1981-82 America the Beautiful stamps on one cover

Two years later, the poem appeared in the church periodical, The Congregationalist, for the Fourth of July. As the poem gained popularity, it was set to different pieces of music. Perhaps the most popular was Samuel A. Ward’s Materna. The poem and song were first combined in 1910 and titled, “America the Beautiful.”

2008 42¢ Flags of Our Nation: US Flag
US #4273 – Flags of Our Nation stamp picturing the American flag with “spacious skies”

2009 44¢ Flags of Our Nation: Flag & Wheat
US #4302 – Flags of Our Nation stamp picturing the US flag with “amber waves of grain”

2010 44¢ Flags of Our Nation, Flag w/ Mountain
US #4304 – Flags of Our Nation stamp picturing the US flag with “purple mountain majesties”

2012 45¢ Flags of Our Nation: Fruited Plains
US #4332 – Flags of Our Nation stamp picturing the US flag with “fruited plains”

Some have suggested “America the Beautiful” should be our country’s national anthem, but “The Star-Spangled Banner” continues to hold that place of honor.  “America the Beautiful” describes the wonders of our vast and diverse nation and has been sung by world-renowned artists over the years.

2018 50¢ O Beautiful
US #5298 – O Beautiful stamp sheet, named after the first line of the song

 

1988 15¢ America the Beautiful First Day Post Card with Colorano Silk Cachet
US #UX120 – America the Beautiful First Day Post Card with Colorano Silk Cachet
1988 15¢ America the Beautiful First Day Post Card
US #UY39 – America the Beautiful First Day Post Card

Click here to read the full poem.

Click here for more US flag stamps.

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One Comment

  1. Helps us recognize that even with all her flaws, how blessed we are together live in this counry and may we use our time to do good.

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