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September 1940: The Irving Berlin Foundation assigns all royalties from "God Bless America" to the Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations.

posted Sep 22, 2011, 7:36 AM by Samuel Harley
This article came across our desk and seemed worthy of being shared.

In 1940. America was in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we’d have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans. This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers – and no entertainer of that era was more popular than Kate Smith. 

Kate was also very patriotic.  She had hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (also wrote “White Christmas”) and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her. He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before - way back in 1917. He gave it to Kate Smith and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from “God Bless America”– any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts USA. 

To this day, “God Bless America”stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, When Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt she realized just how successful the results would be – for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry, and for many generations of Americans to follow… Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you will enjoy it and treasure it even more. God Bless America!




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