Taking You Back In Time
In early 1940, Kate Smith, a fiercely patriotic American, and the biggest star on radio, was deeply worried about her country.
She asked Irving Berlin if he could give her a song that would re-ignite the spirit of American patriotism and faith. He said he had a song that he had written in 1917, The song was used in the musical "Yip Yip Yaphank", which was an amateur show in which the players were all servicemen. It ran briefly at the Yaphank army boot camp on Long Island in 1917. Following that, Berlin put it in a drawer. Decades later, he pulled it out of that drawer for Kate Smith. He said she could have it.
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 two.
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.