COLUMBIA, THE GEM OF THE OCEAN
O, Columbia! The gem of the ocean,
The home of the brave and the free,
The shrine of each patriot's devotion,
A world offers homage to thee.
Thy mandates make heroes assemble,
When Liberty's form stands in view;
Thy banners make tyranny tremble,
When born by the red, white and blue!
When war winged its wide desolation,
And threatened the land to deform,
The ark then of freedom's foundation,
Columbia, rode safe through the storm.
With her garlands of victory around her,
When so proudly she bore her brave crew;
With her flag proudly floating before her.
The boast of the red, white and blue!
The star-spangled banner bring hither,
O'er Columbia's true sons let it wave;
May the wreaths they have won never wither,
Nor its stars cease to shine on the brave.
May the service united ne'er sever,
But hold to her colors so true;
The army and navy forever,
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
Written by Thomas A. Becket, Sr.
Columbia was a common poetic nickname for America. This song was popular during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the Civil War era. It was popular at Hagar Grade School, when I was a student from 1941 to 1948. We sang these patriotic songs from the green-backed "The Music Hour" book until I still remember most of the words today.
Mrs. Imogene (Carper) Stalnaker, my first-grade teacher, gave me a tattered copy of the old music book shortly before she went home to sing in a better land. Memories came flooding back as I leafed through the songs we used to sing. We didn't wait until the Fourth of July to sing these patriotic songs, but they were part of usual routine. We sang lustily, and with feeling "My Country 'Tis of Thee " and "The Star-Spangled Banner," along with "America, the Beautiful."
We loved our country, and were happy in the freedom we enjoyed. A spirit of patriotism was born and nurtured there in that little two-room schoolhouse. We recited the flag pledge every morning when we lined up to march into the schoolroom, and once inside, we said "The Lord's Prayer" in unison. Reverence for our Lord and for our country was taught there and remains with me still.