America the Beautiful






America the Beautiful

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

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!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of 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!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

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
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!







laborday ribbon wreath


Labor Day Greetings





Labor Song

Ah!  Little they know of true happiness, they whom satiety fills,

Who, flung on the rich breast of luxury, eat of the rankness that kills.

Ah! little they know of the blessedness toll-purchased slumber enjoys

Who, stretched on the hard rack of indolence, taste of the sleep that destroys;

Nothing to hope for, or labor for; nothing to sign for or gain;

Nothing to light in its vividness, lightning-like, bosom and brain;

Nothing to break life’s monotony, rippling it o’er with its breath:

Nothing but dullness and lethargy, weariness, sorry and death!


But blessed that child of humanity, happiest man among men,

Who, with hammer or chisel or pencil, with rudder or ploughshare or pen

Laboreth ever and ever with hope through the morning of life,

Winning home and its darling divinities, –love-worshipped children and wife.

Round swings the hammer of industry, quickly, the sharp chisel rings,

and the heart of the toiler has throbbings that stir not the bosom of kings, —

He the true ruler and conqueror, he the true king of his race,

Who nerveth his arm for life’s combat, but looks the strong world in the face

–Denis Florence McCarthy









Hello everyone,

I am going to see some of the grandchildren for the holiday. I hope you enjoy this post. It was fun to put together for you all. I will have pictures when I return and will look forward to reading your posts.


I wish you all fun, safety and a happy heart.





Remembering What America Could Be — A Guest Rant

Hello, Everyone.  It is I, The IdealisticRebel’s Sister, and I have taken over the keyboard today to share a few thoughts.

Okay, rants.


For those of you who are not aware, I turned fifty several months ago, so when I say I remember a different America, I mean that I grew up in a different America.


In the America I grew up in, anger resulted in shouting, fist-fights and, occasionally law suits.  It did not end up in bullet-ridden bodies on the street corner, in the living room or the movie theatre.


I grew up in an America where we played outside till the lights came on, and no one worried we were going to be grabbed and shoved into a van and sold into slavery.  Strange cars in the neighborhood were first waved at, then greeted by a crowd of teenagers watching closely if they seemed suspicious.  Because those teenagers might be picking on you, but you were somebody’s little sister or little brother or younger cousin, and nobody got to mess with you but them!


I grew up in an America where my Mom worked full-time, raising three kids.  I came home to an empty house after school, and called my Mom the SECOND I got through the door, or I got what-for when she had to call me.  I heated up the dinner Mom had pre-made for the two of us, after my siblings went to college, and Mom and I ate together and shared our days and our plans for the week or the weekend.  Weekends, my siblings (sometimes) came home and we all ate together and yelled together and played together and ignored each other.  There was no father in our house (ours was the first household in school to have that ugly seven-letter word:  D-I-V-O-R-C-E).  My father, in fact, moved to Canada and, if I was lucky, I saw him twice a year.  My siblings often saw him less.

And none of us ended up on drugs, or got in bar fights, or beat our partners, or bought a gun and shot some stranger who reminded us of our parents.  We actually ended up as reasonably well-adjusted adults.  Perfect?  Not even close!  Dysfunctional together?  You bet!  But, push comes to shove, loving and caring and compassionate people who, each in our own way, do our best for those around us and the world.


There is no one who needs to tell me what it’s like to come from a broken home; to come home to an empty house day after day; to not have friends to play with because my family was different (I did mention:  the FIRST divorce, didn’t I?)  I was there.  I lived it, I felt it.


I was (very minorly) bullied in school, picked on by the ‘cool kids’, made to eat my lunch alone (because the ‘cool kids’ would ostracize anyone who sat with me), but I learned to cope, and to be happy in my own company and it never occurred to me — nor to anyone else I knew — to walk into my school and blow all my classmates away.


When did we become a country whose knee-jerk response is to shoot first and not ask questions, ever?


I’m not saying that we need to back to the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.  Go back to the time when blacks sat in the back of the bus?  When it was legal to hit a woman?  No, thank you.


But there has to be something between that and THIS.  Something between “you’re different, so I’m going to force you to stay away from me” and “you’re different so I’m going to blow your head off.”


I don’t know what the answer is.  When I was a child, I might have said religion.  But now, in a world where religion is an excuse to blow up synagogues and mosques and churches; where churches teach that anyone who believes differently will go to hell; where church groups picket the funerals of people who, in life, did or were something these narrow-minded people feel is ‘evil’?   I can’t believe THAT kind of religion — any kind of extremist religion, and it seems that, increasingly, that’s the predominant mentality of religious groups these days — is the answer.


I don’t know what the answer is.  When I was a child, I might have said the law.  But the lawmakers are trying to overturn basic human rights, and fighting granting rights to anyone different from them.  So I don’t know that the law is the answer (although, it’s getting better:  Thank you, SCOTUS; Thank you, POTUS).


I don’t know what the answer is.  Now that I’m an adult, though, I think the answer is more simple than I imagined as a child:  I think the answer might — just might — be US.  Each one of us, putting aside our differences to look for the commonalities; checking our prejudices at the door and actually LISTENING to the other side, without anger or vitriol; without judgement or censure; with open minds and open hearts and a genuine desire to make the world and each other better.


I don’t know what the answer is.


Do you?





State of DisUnion (Guest Rant)

Hi, all.  This is The Sister, stealing the keyboard for an evening, as the United States faces another State of the Union Address.

You may watch the Address, you may not, but I think, without having seen anything about the content, I can sum the entire thing up thusly:

“Hey, Republicans!  We’re moving the country forward.  Either help me, or get out of the way.”

Because, here’s the thing, all the right-wingers, conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers — everyone who has been working against the President for the last six years:

Nobody is asking you to agree with the man.

Nobody is expecting you to cow-tow to him.

Nobody expects you to give up your principles, your ethics, your beliefs.


NO is not a viable governmental policy.

Nobody is asking you to agree with the man.  Everyone is asking you to work with him.

Nobody is expecting you to cow-tow to him.  Everyone expects you to have the common decency to respect him as a person, and to respect the office to which he was elected.  Twice.

Nobody expects you to give up your principles, your ethics, your beliefs.  Everyone expects you to be willing to compromise.

You don’t like the policies proposed?  Fine.  Propose something else.  Don’t just keep saying NO, with no alternatives given.

You don’t like the Executive Orders?  Fine.  Take some action as the elected body you are – POSITIVE action, not just repeating the tired phrase “NO, Obama, No,” like he’s a puppy on the furniture.

Like it or not, this IS your President.  You are his Congress.

WORK TOGETHER, or expect us to vote you the out at the first opportunity.

Flag unfurled by vets

Flag unfurled by vets


Hello, everyone.  This is Barbara.  I took the keyboard back, and there’s something I would like to add to my Sister’s Rant.

I agree with what my Sister said, however I feel that she didn’t go quite far enough.

We are in the 21st Century.  The American people have elected Barak Obama, twice, to be our President, because he is a progressive liberal.  This said, I do not think that everything he has said or done is correct.  I think he missed the target a few times.  I know that has upset some liberal progressives.  But, being a part of Congress, whichever house you may be in, gives you a responsibility; a responsibility to your constituents, and a responsibility to be part of what makes America work better.

You cannot just say, “well, we’re Republicans, or Conservatives, or Tea Partiers, and we just won’t cooperate.  We will not do what Obama wants.”  That behavior is juvenile, and reminds me of children playing in a backyard, when one child gets angry and picks up his toys and goes home, vowing never to play again.

I challenge — nay, I dare — Congress to put politics aside and to think about their constituents who are middle class or poor, not just the rich.  Poverty is the largest problem we have.  1% of the population has all the money.  Yes, they’ve earned it.  But have they earned it ethically and morally? Is giving them shortcuts and loopholes to pay less taxes fair?  I think not.

I think that if a woman has to decide whether to pay taxes or feed her children, this is not what the founding fathers had in mind when they designed our form of democracy.

I think that we need to remember, or we need to find out, what the founding fathers had in mind.  If you don’t know, I challenge you to look it up, to read it, to get into their minds.

Thursday, January 25th, on the History Channel, a three-night mini series begins, called the Sons of Liberty.  It is about the founding fathers, and the passion and the politics of an English colony trying to decide if they wanted freedom or not.

At that time, in America, freedom was very controversial, and there were many people who did not want freedom from Mother England.  The controversies and arguments were plentiful, back in those days.  The desire for a better life, a life of equality and freedom was a strong inspiration to the progressive Colonists at that time.

Equality – that’s another problem. That was the one thing they could not come to an agreement about.  They felt that, after the country had stood on its own, as a nation, following generations would be able to figure out a plan which would satisfy everyone.  This was the only place they were mistaken, and because politics was allowed to dominate this discussion of the ownership of human beings, Four Score and Seven years later, we had a Civil War which nearly tore our country permanently asunder.

To be truthful, we still don’t have it right.  We still have racism in America.  We still have people who are treated differently because of their color, and because of other factors, but color is still the largest divider.  The irony, to me, is that there is less racism in Mother England than there is here.

A nation looking out for the lives of all its citizens, rich or poor, is a responsibility.  Many nations in the world today are walking away from their responsibilities to their citizens.

America, the Brave and Beautiful, must not walk away from her citizens.

Race and Police

The New Year brings with it a clean slate but not in every aspect. I think we will find that Race is an exception. It is sad but true that America is still a racist country. Why? Please read Tom Foreman’s article.

ICantBreathePoster  MichaelBrownGrad TrayvonMartin TamirRiceThumbsUp

The following article is excerpted from CNN January 3, 2015

By Tom Foreman, CNN



I obey the speed limit, use turn signals, and don’t cruise around with broken tail lights. I don’t have substance-abuse problems, unless you count Diet Dr. Pepper. I live in a safe neighborhood, and no one in my family has a criminal record. I like to think all of that is why I spend virtually no time worrying about the police.

Yet there’s another big reason: I’m white.

The way most white people see the police, and the way most black people see them, is separated by a gap so wide it may as well be a canyon.

That gulf has been cast into sharp relief by events in Ferguson, Missouri, where a grand jury declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. That sparked protests around the country, as did a decision in New York not to indict a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who police confronted while investigating allegations that he was selling cigarettes illegally.

Those cases collectively have come to stand as a kind of national Rorschach inkblot test, with people looking at the same events and reaching different conclusions. Some people adopted the phrase “black lives matter” to protest police treatment of minorities, while others countered with “police lives matter,” and — maybe in search of a more universal middle ground — “all lives matter.”


People immortalized Garner’s last words — “I can’t breathe” — on T-shirts and protest signs and social media posts. Those on the other side of the national divide fired back with slogans such as “I can breathe” and “Breathe Easy, Obey the Law,” arguing that if you just obey the law, you will avoid encounters with the police altogether.

One of our latest CNN/ORC polls put numbers on the gap in public opinion.

Asked “How many police officers in the area where you live … are prejudiced against blacks?” 17% of whites said “most or some,” but more than twice as many non-whites — 42% — felt that way. “Does the U.S. criminal justice system treat whites and blacks equally?” Whites: 50% said yes, compared to 21% of non-whites. True, plenty of blacks and whites buck those trends, and no racial group can be treated as a monolith in these matters, but leanings — writ large — remain.

Those opinions may grow out of the fact that police tend to arrest blacks at rates disproportionate to their share in the general population. FBI figures, for example, show that blacks made up 28% of all people arrested in 2013; they make up about 13% of the U.S. population.

But plenty of people have long suggested those numbers are deceiving; that police pursue black suspects more vigorously because they are predisposed to believe blacks are guilty, and those suspects are often less educated and not as financially prepared to defend themselves. The result, they argue, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: a larger percentage of blacks are arrested and convicted because police spend more time chasing them down.

Accordingly, when an unarmed teen gets shot and killed by a cop in Missouri, or a man in New York dies after being choked by an officer, some people see evidence of police targeting and brutalizing minorities.

Still, facts often fit into this debate like broken Legos, if at all. In both Ferguson and New York, police supporters point out that the men who died were being approached about possible criminal behavior and did not do what the officers asked of them. That’s a formula for trouble, they say, regardless of race.


Want more complications? Consider this: About a quarter of the nation’s officers come from minority groups, and they too are making those arrests that so disturb some people in minority communities. That suggests this friction may be partially about black and white, but also tied to a pro-police mentality that sees blue first. And by the way, there are still plenty of places like Ferguson where the overwhelming prevalence of white officers in a largely black community creates a feeling of apartheid for some minority residents.

It all plays out in so many heated ways. Protestors flood the streets and some observers see overdue demands for change, while others see pointless rabble-rousing and destruction. In New York, officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill DeBlasio on the grounds that he supported protesters outraged by the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in Garner’s death. Anger at the mayor deepened after two New York police officers were killed in ambush by a man who had posted on Instagram: “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours, Let’s Take 2 of Theirs.”

Some see well-founded, fair objections, while others see brazen disrespect. On it goes, each action honestly generated from within a worldview, and yet seen in a wildly different way by those who use another lens.

The divergent views were captured neatly after a Facebook post from Mike Rowe, who stars in the CNN series “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.” Someone asked what he thought of the protests in California triggered by events in Ferguson. He said those protests made him 90 minutes late for a holiday dinner in Alameda, California, where the deaths of Brown and Garner dominated conversation.

“My conservative friends were focused on the fact that both men died while resisting arrest, and were therefore responsible for their own demise. They wanted to discuss the killings in light of the incredible risk that all police officers agree to assume,” Rowe wrote. “My liberal friends were focused on the fact that both men were unarmed, and were therefore victims of excessive force. They wanted to discuss the killings in the context of historical trends that suggest bias plays a recurring role in the way cops treat minorities.”

He said it was clear by dessert that both sides wanted law and order.

“But the conservatives were convinced that order is only possible when citizens treat cops with respect. Liberals, on the other hand, were arguing that order can only occur when cops treat everyone the same,” he wrote. “And round and round we went.”

More than 115,000 people offered a range of views in their comments on Rowe’s Facebook post. Nearly 65,000 people shared the post, with each spawning more comments from more people with more views.

When these events happen, people always say “At least we’re talking about the problems. That’s a start.” I’m not so sure. I’ve covered versions of this debate for close to 40 years now, and it hasn’t changed much.

Some are so convinced of police bigotry, they will not stomach the slightest allowance that maybe officers are taking on a hard, dangerous job in which judgment calls can be fairly made and still wind up fatally wrong.

Some others are so certain that this is all just so much liberal whining, that they cannot tolerate even a reasonable review of police conduct, suggesting that it constitutes an erosion of respect and support for people they consider de facto heroes.

I suspect if any real progress is to be made in this national discussion, it will have to be started by people who don’t fully buy into either camp. And the discussion probably can’t include poisoning phrases like “black underclass” or “white privilege,” because those are conversation stoppers — not starters.



The man who helped me get my first job in television was an excellent investigative journalist named Norman Lumpkin. He made his reputation as a rare African-American TV reporter in Montgomery, Alabama, grappling with inept public officials, scheming businessmen, and, yes, shady cops. He was my friend and mentor. One day Norman called me aside to criticize a story I’d just done on divorces, noting that I had not included any black families. I took offense.

“This isn’t a story about race,” I said.

“It’s always about race,” Norman said.

“Well, I don’t judge people that way.”

“We all do.”

I’ve thought of that clash many times, especially since Norman passed away, and I’ve concluded I was right to try to ignore race in a story that was about human values we all share. He was equally right to say race has a way of creeping into places where it doesn’t belong; like divorces, politics, and police work. And we were collectively right in trying to actually talk about our differences, instead of accusing each other and lapsing into hardened silence. Neither of us was being racist. We were trying, as friends do, to help each other understand. But then, Norman and I already knew we could trust each other.

And in too many places, police and the people they are sworn to protect, are not so sure of that.



Visual Trip Across America


Why am I taking you on a visual trip of America? Because I want you to remember all we have here. This is our America.

These pictures are symbols of what we vote for. We vote because we have the right to vote and have since the Founding Fathers. We have the duty to each other and to America to speak up and let government officials know how we feel. We must  vote, or everyone that has died fighting for our country and way of life will have died in vain. Even if you are not happy with our present government and if you see racism and sexism and judgmentalism as black marks against us, go out and vote. Just go. Send your message, send your thoughts, send a message of what must change. Send a message that is representative of your voice. It is ELECTION DAY. Go to the polls and vote. It is not too much to ask.

Smokey Mountains

Smokey Mountains  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013



To Majestic Mountains

To Majestic Mountains  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012



My flowers in glorious bloom. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012




To your own home

To your own home  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 1013



To country roads

To country roads  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013



To Texas butterflies. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2007

To butterflies. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2007



And lakes

To lakes  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2011



From Oceans

And oceans and islands  Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012

Election Eve



Hello to all of my readers. Do you know what today is? It is Election Eve. I know (for those in America anyway ) you are over all of the ads. Even worse the dirty commercials. Could that person have possibility have done that? What do I really think? My husband doesn’t agree with who I want to be our Governor. My best friend says I am completely wrong in my ideas. My kids think I don’t understand politics. Maybe I should just skip voting. It is supposed to rain tomorrow. I have several things I can do at the house. What should I do? Should I vote?


Ladies, this is an important election for us. Yes, there is a war on women. The GOP want us back in the home and they want us more restricted than we are now. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you have heard it on the news from the Middle East. There are so many issues at stake, so many programs to help people that hang in the balance. The condition of our society depends on everyone voting. Our children’s education, your parents’ ability to receive good medical care, the ability to feed our children and keep a roof over their heads. We need to remember that Americans all live in one country. We look different but we have the same basic human needs.  Despite economic conditions, if you flip burgers to support your children you are as important as the person who owns his/ her own company.


If you are an American man or woman, you have the right to vote. With that right that was granted to men by the Founding Fathers, and the feminist Suffragettes earned for us, comes a responsibility to use it. If you don’t vote you have no right to whine, complain, grouse or say negative things about who is elected. If you vote, then you can always say what you feel. It is your right. I have met many people who love to tell whoever will listen what is wrong with government. Inevitably, I ask if they voted. 90% of the time they have not.


You can research candidates with the League of Women Voters and in your local newspapers. It takes time, but not that much when you consider what is at stake. Take your state ID or Driver’s License with you in case you need to prove who you are. Don’t let poll workers prevent you from voting. It is your right and your vote is needed. Of all the democracies in the world, we have the lowest percentage of voter turnout. Right now, there are people who would give anything to have the right to vote.


Your vote is your voice. Your vote is your message to our leaders of what you want and it is really the only way they will hear you.  So vote and let them know what you want. Let them know what you think America needs. VOTE!








A very good question.

A very good question.



The Suffragettes earned us the right to vote.

The Suffragettes earned us the right to vote.




Get out and Vote tomorrow. You can make a difference.

Get out and Vote tomorrow. You can make a difference.




Equality in our lives