Friday, July 4, 2014

"God Bless America"

Location:   Yaphank, New York
Year:   1918

"God Bless America" was written by an immigrant tunesmith, Israel Balin, better known as Irving Berlin, in 1918 during the First World War. The song was written for a musical revue called "Yip, Yap Yaphank" that was being staged by the soldiers serving at Camp Yaphank (later Camp Upton), where Berlin himself was stationed. 

Too serious for a comedy show, Berlin did not publish the song until 1938, just as new storm clouds descended upon Europe with the advent of World War II. Kate Smith, who was known for her energetic singing style, made "God Bless America" into her personal signature number. 

There have been many calls to turn "God Bless  America" into the new, or at least the alternate, National Anthem.

"God Bless America" has been  associated with liberal causes and the expansion of American civil rights throughout its history, as Berlin himself believed in. As a youngster, his family had fled religious persecution in Tsarist Russia.

Beginning in the 1990s, the song has become increasingly and inappropriately associated with Christian conservatives and Tea Party members who have no idea what the song celebrates.

It is important to remember that this song was written by a man fleeing persecution, and is intended as a musical honorarium to the freedoms he found in the United States. Many among America's Right Wing have shown that they will steal, co-opt and pervert anything, including your freedoms as an American
(though not their own) , in order to pursue their bizarre social agenda, cloaking the worst anti-Americanism in the Stars and Stripes.

May Kate Smith sit on them . . . and may God bless America!

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