America the Beautiful

African American Lives Barriers to healthcare Coronavirus Covid-19 Global Pandemic Health Equity Health System Weaknesses Healthcare Equity National Public Health Emergency politics and health Public health Policy

This evening, like a lot of evenings, I sat down to write. Today, I could not. I was overcome with a deep sadness for my adopted home, the USA, and the way she is being devastated by COVID-19.

The first Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded in 1901. By 2019, 110 prizes have been awarded to 219 scientists in Physiology and Medicine. 94 of these have been Americans.
We have the CDC, the ultimate authority on epidemics. We have all of the NIH. There is a biotech firm at every street corner in Boston and San Fran. We are the richest country in the world. We have John Hopkins, Emory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Baylor…
We sequenced the frigging human genome!

Illustration of DNA helix – Source:

And yet, look at us…looking all powerless before a virus…because we cannot get our act together.

As these thoughts went through my head, the tears fell. I shed tears for a nation so powerful and yet so weak. So rich and yet so poor. So mighty and yet so small.
And then through the tears, I heard his voice. The voice of Ray Charles…singing “America the Beautiful”…that soulful 1976 rendition with his powerful, raspy voice.
I listened to that song the night before my swearing-in as a citizen. It is a song that always makes me tear up; a song that speaks of the beauty of this nation.

I particularly like this section

“And you know when I was in school,
We used to sing it something like this, listen here:

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain,

But now wait a minute, I’m talking about
America, sweet America,
You know, God done shed his grace on thee,
He crowned thy good, yes he did, in a brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.”

Ray Charles playing “America The Beautiful”

This country, this mighty United States of America, has faced tougher times and come through. I believe that we shall rise up and defeat this virus too. We have to for it is in our DNA to buck the odds. Led by science, data, smarts, and grit, we shall vanquish this pathogen. And we shall do it from sea to shining sea.
And least you doubt it, listen to Ray Charles sing “America the Beautiful” every evening. He’ll convince you.

Stay safe, everybody!

By Nana Dadzie Ghansah an anesthesiologist who lives and works in Lexington Kentucky


A physician providing primary medical care to patients across the lifespan