God Bless America was originally written by legendary composer, Irving Berlin in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army. At the time, he couldn’t find an appropriate show to use it in, so he set it aside. It wasn’t until after the rise of Hitler in 1938 that Berlin, who was Jewish and a first generation European immigrant, dusted off the sheet music and put it to work. The song was introduced to the American public on an Armistice Day radio broadcast, sung by Kate Smith. God Bless America was a huge hit, and for a while, there was even a movement to make the song our national anthem. It didn’t happen, but the song’s popularity with the American public has never waned. It’s one of my all time favorites, never failing to draw a tear or two from my eyes, which is why I wanted to share it with you on this Independence Day.
It was also a favorite of my father’s. He immigrated to the United States on July 17, 1956. Becoming a United States citizen was one of the proudest moments of his life. My father truly understood and appreciated the freedoms and opportunities that he enjoyed as an American. He once told me that when he woke up each morning the first thought in his head was “God bless America”. I know this must be so, for I can’t count the number of times I heard him say it out loud.
This one’s for you, Dad!
Here’s wishing you all a very happy and safe Fourth of July!