Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shared by Carol Corcoran


  The link below
will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of “GOD BLESS
AMERICA.”But before you watch, you should also know the story of the song. The
time was 1940. America was still 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 bigger than Kate Smith. Kate was also large in size,
and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her, “It ain’t over
till the fat lady sings.” Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of
TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her
      Kate was also very patriotic. It hurt her to see
Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring. 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. Over the years,
the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this
      This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the
radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for
the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her
voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie,
“You’re In The Army Now.” At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in
the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper – it’s Ronald Reagan. Frank
Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said when he and
a million other guys first heard her sing “God Bless America ”on the radio, they
all pretended to have “dust in their eyes” as they wiped away a tear or
      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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"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."

~Alex Haley

L.D.S. Temple

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