This was the theme song for the Hands Across America charity event that took place May 25, 1986. At 3 p.m. Eastern Time, millions of Americans joined hands in a line that stretched from Battery Park in New York City to the Santa Monica Pier in California, singing three songs: "We Are The World
," "America The Beautiful
," and this new song written specifically for the event, "Hands Across America."
The project was organized by Ken Kragen, who spearheaded the We Are The World project and ran the USA for Africa organization. Like he did with We Are The World in 1985, Kragen rallied celebrities and corporate sponsors to the cause, generating significant media attention. The event was a huge spectacle, with lots of stunts at different spots along the line: elephants going trunk-to-tail in New York City; covered wagons in Dallas; prisoners linking hands in New Jersey. Kenny Rogers performed in the desert near the Texas-New Mexico border.
There were plenty of gaps in the line, but Hands Across America was far bigger than any other hand-holding event in history, easily outdistancing the 65 miles covered by 200,000 people in West Germany for a peace demonstration in 1983.
Organizers were hoping to raise about $100 million, mostly from donations (those participating were asked to give $10), but after expenses, about $15 million made it to local charities that helped the homeless and hungry in America.