While getting ready for today’s July 4th festivities my mind began wandering. I thought how lucky I am to have been born in this great country. Exactly 240 years ago today a group of brave men met in Philadelphia and declared their independence from the tyranny of Great Britain by signing the Declaration of Independence. While I was thinking about the founding of America I started to sing, God Bless America! As soon as the words came out of my mouth, my thoughts shifted to the great composer, Irving Berlin, who actually wrote the American classic, “God Bless America.”
In 1918, Russian born Irving Berlin wrote a tune while serving in the United States Army. The tune never hit the mark so he threw it in the junk bin where it was forgotten over time. Then in 1938, with dark clouds brewing over Europe, Jewish-American Berlin wanted to do his part to support America. Irving dusted off the old music from 1918 and added a new, patriotic lyric. The song was introduced on a 1938 Armistice Day radio broadcast by by then famous singer Kate Smith. It became a national blockbuster hit and Smith’s theme song.
It was so popular that some considered, God Bless America our second national anthem. Patriot Irving Berlin never accepted one thin dime for this great American song. He donated all the royalties, valued at over $100,000, to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.