The Story Behind America’s Unofficial National Anthem

     America’s unofficial national anthem was composed by an immigrant who left his home in Siberia for America when he was only five years old. The original version of “God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin (1888-1989) during the summer of 1918 at Camp Upton, located in Yaphank, Long Island.

     Originally written for his Ziegfeld-style revue called “Yip, Yip, Yaphank”, Berlin decided that its solemn tone lyrics and such as “Make her victorious on land and foam, God bless America…” as well as “Stand beside her and guide her to the right with the light from above” did not fit into his comedy revue, so he set it aside.

     In the fall of 1938, as war was once again threatening Europe, Berlin decided to write a “peace” song. He recalled his “God Bless America” from twenty years earlier and made some alterations to reflect the different state of the world.

     Kate Smith, a fiercely patriotic American, and the biggest star on radio at the time, 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.

     After sitting at the piano and playing it through, Kate Smith realized just how good of a song it was. She called Mr. Berlin and told him that she couldn’t take this from him for nothing. So, they agreed that any money that would be made off the song would be donated to the Boy Scouts of America.

     Kate Smith introduced the revised “God Bless America” during her radio broadcast on Armistice Day, 1938. The song was an immediate sensation; the sheet music was in great demand. Berlin soon established the God Bless America Fund, officially dedicating the royalties to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

     Thanks to Kate Smith and Irving Berlin, the Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties.

     This clip is from the movie “This Is The Army”. You will see a familiar face in this one that we are all very proud of.

     Frank Sinatra once said that when Kate Smith, whom he considered the greatest singer of his age, first sang this song on the radio, a million guys got ‘dust’ in their eyes and had to wipe the tears the ‘dust’ caused.

     See If you can watch and listen without ‘dust’ getting in your eyes. Sit back and enjoy a real star.