O Beautiful, for Heroes Proved

by Judy Ness

The students at Genesis Classical Academy have been diligently preparing for the upcoming Veteran’s Day celebration, hosted by Winnebago American Legion Post 82. This year, the students in Grades 4-8 will be singing America the Beautiful.

The words to this song, written by poet Katharine Lee Bates in 1893, are slightly out of sync with our modern use of the English language and require a bit of deciphering. We have been studying the lyrics, attempting to understand the message, rather than just mindlessly repeating the words.

The third verse begins, “O Beautiful, for heroes proved, in liberating strife; who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.” I asked the students to consider a couple of questions and was pleasantly surprised with their level of insight.

“What makes someone a hero?” I asked. “If I put on a badge that says ‘hero’ does that make me one?”  The students were quick to explain that it was a person’s actions that made him/her a hero—not just words. Heroes were proved by their actions.

I continued, “What is the difference between a hero and a celebrity?” They understood very clearly that there is a difference. Celebrities are generally “rich,” “famous,” or “in the news.” But heroes are people who are willing to risk their own comfort, safety—and even their lives—to help someone else. We talked about how our veterans and active duty military, as well as police, firefighters, first responders and others, are true heroes because they put their lives on the line for other people.

“Has anyone else ever done this for you?” I asked. The response was immediate, but spoken in a hushed, reverent tone.


Our military heroes have risked life and limb for our freedom, but Jesus gave up His life, that we might have life everlasting.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8 NIV

(When I slow down long enough to let that really sink in, it is mind-blowing. Jesus Christ died for me, despite my sins, character defects, and failings.)

Please join us in thanking God for the freedom we enjoy in the United States of America, and in honoring our veterans for the sacrifices they have made to protect that freedom. The Veteran’s Day Program will be held on Monday, November 11th, at 1 pm in the Winnebago School Gym, 132 1st Ave SE, Winnebago.

Judy Ness is a business owner, a former teacher, and a passionate supporter of Genesis Classical Academy in Winnebago, Minnesota. She and her husband James have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren. They count among their blessings the wonderful education that their grandchildren are receiving at Genesis.