Teens Sue Over Minor League Ejection — AOL Poll — Three teens sue Newark Bears for booting them from stadium for refusing to stand during ‘God Bless America’ — Video — At the Stadium, Stay Put When the Music Plays — Three unpatriotic punks booted from stadium, oft-disciplined attorney dad suing — Ban “God Bless America” at MLB Baseball Games! — God Bless America, Land That I Love


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God Bless America

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.


Teens Sue Over Minor League Ejection

AOL Poll:  Do you think sitting during ‘God Bless America’ merits getting kicked out of a stadium?

Yes 52% — No 48%

Total Votes: 221,113


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Three teens sue Newark Bears for booting them from stadium for refusing to stand during ‘God Bless America’

by Sharon Adarlo/The Star-Ledger

Thursday September 10, 2009

It is a matter of etiquette and, since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks eight years ago Friday, almost a test of one’s patriotism.

When “God Bless America” blares from the loudspeakers at ballgames, fans rise from their seats. At Newark’s Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, woe to the fan whose fanny remains planted.

In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Newark, three Millburn High School students contend Newark Bears president and co-owner Thomas Cetnar berated them, cursed at them and then booted them from the ballpark after they failed to stand for the song during the seventh-inning stretch.

“Nobody sits during the singing of ‘God Bless America’ in my stadium,'” Cetnar bellowed during the June 29 incident, according to the suit. “Now the get the (expletive) out of here.”

The teens — Millburn High seniors Bryce Gadye and Nilkumar Patel, both 17, and junior Shaan Mohammad Khan, 16 — argue the treatment and their ejection violated their rights under the Constitution, along with federal and state public accommodation laws and state law against discrimination. They’re seeking unspecified damages.

“Part of being an American is respecting the wish of others, and that includes letting people sit. That’s American,” said Ross Gadye, Bryce Gadye’s father and an attorney who filed the suit on the teens’ behalf.

Repeated calls to Cetnar and James Wankmiller, another member of the ownership group, were not returned today.

If recent history is any example, the youths could have a case. In July, a federal judge in New York signed a settlement between the Yankees and a fan who’d been ejected from the old Yankee Stadium by security — a pair of off-duty police officers — because he insisted on walking to the bathroom during the famed Kate Smith rendition of the song.

Under the settlement, the Yankees agreed to scrap a policy that prohibited movement while the song played. It was in the weeks after 9/11 that the Yankees began playing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. The practice was soon emulated at ballparks across the country, though many teams have dropped it since then.

Ed Barocas, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said the Newark Bears, like the Yankees last year, clearly crossed a line.

“They should not have been ejected,” said Barocas, whose groups is not involved in the suit. “They have the right to choose not to participate in somebody else’s beliefs.”

Ross Gadye said his son and the teen’s friends were not disruptive at any time during the evening game, in which the Bears played the South Maryland Blue Crabs. At one point, they were given permission by stadium staff to move from their seats to empty seats behind home plate.

In the fifth inning, Bryce Gadye and Patel were selected to take part in a contest on the field, winning four tickets to a future Bears game. Things went awry in the seventh, according to the suit, when Cetnar noticed the teens sitting during “God Bless America” and stormed over.

When Bryce Gadye told Cetnar he had a right to remain seated, the suit said, the co-owner told them they were underage and that he “could do whatever he wanted with them.”

He then instructed two security officers to lead them out, the lawsuit contends. The confrontation created a spectacle that “humiliated” the teens, the suit said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Ross Gadye said, recounting his reaction when his son told him what had happened. “These kids are good kids,”

The father met the next month with general manager Mark Skeels and Wankmiller, the co-owner, who offered an apology and free tickets. But the teens were upset Cetnar was not at the meeting and that he never apologized, Ross Gadye said. After several weeks without a resolution, the youths decided to file the lawsuit.

Skeels said today he knew of the incident but had not yet reviewed the lawsuit. He declined to comment.



God Bless America” is an American patriotic song originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938, as sung by Kate Smith (becoming her signature song).

“God Bless America” takes the form of a prayer (intro lyrics “as we raise our voices, in a solemn prayer”) for God’s blessing and peace for the nation (“…stand beside her and guide her through the night…”).

Berlin originally wrote the song in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, but decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank, so he set it aside. The lyrics at that time included the line, “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.”

Music critic Jody Rosen comments that a 1906 Jewish dialect novelty song, “When Mose with His Nose Leads the Band”, contains a six-note fragment that is “instantly recognizable as the opening strains of “God Bless America””. He interprets this as an example of Berlin’s “habit of interpolating bits of half-remembered songs into his own numbers.” Berlin, born Israel Baline, had himself written several Jewish-themed novelty tunes.

In 1938, with the rise of Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish, and a first-generation European immigrant, felt it was time to revive it as a “peace song”, and it was introduced on an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938 sung by Kate Smith, on her radio show.  Berlin had made some minor changes; by this time, “to the right” might have been considered a call to the political right, so he substituted “through the night” instead. He also provided an introduction that is now rarely heard but which Smith always used: “While the storm clouds gather far across the sea / Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free / Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, / As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.”

More than just the dramatic words and melody, the arrangement for Kate Smith’s performance was accompanied by full band, progressing into a grand march tempo, with trumpets triple re-inforcing the harmonies between stanzas: the dramatic build-up ends on the final exposed high note, which Kate Smith sang in the solo as a sustained a cappella note, with the band then joining for the finale.

The song was a hit; there was even a movement to make “God Bless America” the national anthem of the United States. In 1943, Smith’s rendition was featured in the patriotic musical This Is the Army along with other Berlin songs. Manuscripts in the Library of Congress reveal the evolution of the song from victory to peace. Berlin gave the royalties of the song to the God Bless America Fund for redistribution to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of the USA.

Woody Guthrie disliked the song, and wrote “This Land Is Your Land,” originally titled “God Blessed America For Me”, as a response to “God Bless America”. “This Land Is Your Land” has also often been proposed as a United States national anthem.

Later, from December 11, 1969, through the early 1970s, the playing of Smith singing the song before many of home games of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers brought it renewed popularity (as well as a reputation for being a “good luck charm” to the Flyers), long before it became a staple of nationwide sporting events. The Flyers even brought Smith in to sing “live” before the final game of Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 19, 1974, and the Flyers won the Cup that day.

To honor the start of the United States Bicentennial, Kate Smith sang “God Bless America” for a national television audience, accompanied by the UCLA Band at the 1976 Rose Bowl.

“God Bless America” is often sung at sporting events, recitals, and other public events where national anthems are sung, sometimes in place of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Two examples of this are at home games of the Philadelphia Flyers and those of the Ottawa Senators in which the visiting team is from the United States. At Flyers’ home games, Lauren Hart has sung “God Bless America” alternating lyrics with Kate Smith on a video screen.

Kate Smith actually appeared in person to sing at select Flyers games, including their 1974 Stanley Cup clinching game against the Boston Bruins, to which she received a thunderous ovation from the infamously fickle Philadelphia fans. To this day, whenever the Flyers play the video of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America”, the fans will not boo any play until well into the game. At some Ottawa Senators’ home games, if the visiting team is from the U.S., Ontario Provincial Police Constable Lyndon Slewidge has sung “God Bless America” before singing the Canadian national anthem.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “God Bless America” has commonly been sung during the seventh-inning stretch in Sunday (as well as Opening Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, All-Star Game, Labor Day, September 11 and all post-season) Major League Baseball games, except for those at the Canadian home fields of the Toronto Blue Jays and of the Montreal Expos prior to 2005, when they moved to Washington. Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium are currently the only Major League ballparks to play “God Bless America” in every game during the seventh-inning stretch. The Yankees’ YES Network televises its performance during each game before going to a commercial.

On August 26, 2008, a fan at a Boston Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium, who had attempted to leave for the restroom during the playing of the song, was restrained and ejected by NYPD officers. As part of the settlement of a subsequent lawsuit, the New York Yankees announced that they would no longer restrict the movement of fans during the playing of the song.

At Chicago’s Wrigley Field, during the Vietnam War, the song was often played by the organist as part of his post-game playlist, while fans filed out of the stadium.

Source:  Wiki


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At the Stadium, Stay Put When the Music Plays

NYT – By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, Published: May 10, 2007

The most patriotic moments at Yankee Stadium can also be the most confining.

Seconds before “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” are played, police officers, security guards and ushers turn their backs to the American flag in center field, stare at fans moving through the stands and ask them to stop. Across the stadium’s lower section, ushers stand every 20 feet to block the main aisle with chains.

As the songs are played or sung, the crowd appears motionless.

The national anthem has long been a pregame staple at sporting events. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Major League Baseball directed teams to play “God Bless America” before the bottom of the seventh inning at every game. Baseball scaled back the next season, telling teams they needed to play the song only on Sundays and holidays, which is still the case.

Only the Yankees continue to play “God Bless America” at every home game. They are also the only ones to use chains to prevent fans from moving during both songs, which concerns some civil liberties advocates.

Howard J. Rubenstein, the spokesman for the Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, said the policy was an expression of patriotism.

“Mr. Steinbrenner wanted to do all games to remind the fans about how important it is to honor our nation, our service members, those that died on Sept. 11 and those fighting for our nation,” Rubenstein said in a telephone interview.

In the month after the attacks, baseball and patriotism seemed to be intertwined, and the idea to restrict the movement of fans was born. Lonn A. Trost, the team’s chief operating officer, said fans sent the Yankees’ front office hundreds of e-mail messages and letters and made phone calls to complain about how other fans were not paying respect.

“The fans were telling us it was a disgrace that when the song was being sung people were not observing it with a moment of silence,” Trost said.

Trost said Steinbrenner was presented with the fan complaints and agreed to a plan to restrict movement. By mid-October 2001, he said, the Yankees’ implemented a system using off-duty uniformed police officers, ushers, stadium security personnel and the aisle chains to restrict movement. The Yankees pay the city to use police officers as part of the security detail.

Trost said the ushers were instructed to allow fans with emergencies to move through the stands. Because one end of each chain is held by a person, instead of secured in place, the system is not considered a fire hazard, a spokeswoman for the New York Fire Department said.

Trost said the Yankees have not heard any complaints about either the continued playing of “God Bless America” or the restrictions on movement.

“Before 9/11, we recognized the spirit and importance of the way of life we live in this country,” he said. “We have always been a major supporter of everything that relates on a patriotic basis. Men and women are serving, and we believe as an organization we should remember them and how they are out there on the forefront.”

The Mets, meanwhile, have not heard complaints from fans about behavior during the songs and have not implemented similar restrictions, a team spokesman said.

Patrick Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said teams determine what is appropriate at their stadiums. The Yankees are the only major league team to use chains, according to a survey of teams. But at least eight others — the Marlins, the Phillies, the Padres, the Rangers, the Twins, the Astros, the Athletics and the Red Sox — instruct ushers to prevent fans from moving through the aisles when the songs are played.

Some civil liberties advocates worry that the Yankees may be restricting freedom in the name of freedom.

“Yankee management is free to promote its brand of musical patriotism,” Arthur Eisenberg, the legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a written statement. “But we need to be wary of enforced cultural conformity and the use of a ballgame to impose political correctness on a captive audience.”

The organization said it would consider legal action only if a fan were arrested for disobeying the measure.

Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Columbia Law School, said the Yankees had the right to restrict movement.

“It doesn’t violate the Constitution, because the Yankees are not the government,” Dorf said. “If they were a municipally owned team, you could have an issue because the team would be a state actor.”

Dorf said that he would be at today’s game and that the use of chains did not bother him and probably would not upset most fans.

“But at the same time, it could for people who have a different view of their patriotism,” he said. “It will be compelled speech or compelled silence.”


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The beginning of Newark’s rich baseball legacy pre-dates the Civil War. The game of baseball provided a universal language for the diverse immigrant residents of the city. During the Great Depression, baseball provided jobs as well as much-needed entertainment and a sense of pride among the hardworking people of Newark who, in the midst of great adversity, were able to enjoy one of the most successful minor league teams in baseball history.

Newark was the home of several former minor league baseball teams, from the formation of the Newark Indians in 1902, and the addition of the legendary Newark Eagles of the Negro National League in 1936. A Federal League team, the Newark Pepper also played in 1915. The Newark Bears were introduced in the International League in 1917 and underwent many changes over the years as they made their mark in sports history and developed star talent who were promoted to the parent organization, the New York Yankees. Readers of Baseball America named the 1937 Newark Bears the minor-league team of the century. In 1950, the franchise was sold to the Chicago Cubs and was moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.

It took nearly 50 years, but the city’s resilience, as manifest through baseball, led to the 1998 reformation of the Bears by former Yankee catcher, Rick Cerone. On July 16, 1999, the County of Essex opened the Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium as the new home of the Bears.

The stadium name pays tribute to the city’s former Negro League Team, the Newark Eagles, formed via the merger of the Newark Dodgers and the Brooklyn Eagles in 1936. The talented team won the Negro World Series in 1946 and sent five players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame: Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Willie Wells, Ray Dandridge, and Leon Day. Larry Doby made another significant mark in history by becoming the first African American to play in the American League. In 1948, the Eagles departed from Newark as the integration of baseball found increased success.

Source:  Newark Bears


Three unpatriotic punks booted from stadium, oft-disciplined attorney dad suing

Lagniappe’s Lair, September 14, 2009

It starts out simply enough, according to the news report

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Three teenagers who say they were tossed from a New Jersey ballpark for sitting through the song “God Bless America” are suing the minor league Newark Bears.

The boys say their constitutional rights were violated when they were asked to leave Newark’s Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in June by Bear’s president co-owner Thomas Cetnar.

Cetnar confirms the boys were asked to leave but declined to elaborate.

The boys – Millburn High seniors Bryce Gadye (gah-DEE’) and Nilkumar (NIHL-koo-mahr) Patel, both 17, and junior Shaan (shahn) Mohammad Khan, 16 – sued in federal court Friday seeking unspecified damages.

They say when they told Cetnar they had the right to remain seated, he cursed and had two security officers remove them from their seats behind home plate.

Now just taking these facts as the whole story, I’m good with them getting booted for their arrogant display of disrespect. Hell, I’d like to take it a step farther and boot them right out of my country. Let the little cretins go enjoy the freedoms and liberties of most any other country for a few years and I predict that they’ll be down on their knees begging to get back into this one. And for the record, I not only support Mr. Cetnar 100%, but I respect the hell out of him.

I’d also like to remind these little shitbirds that lawsuits alleging that their constitutional rights were violated really only work when the government denies you a right. Here though, they’re in a private venue, with no government actors. The government doesn’t own the stadium or the team, nor did a government official order them out. So that said, I have to wonder what kind of third-rate hack lawyer took on a case like this.

I didn’t have to wonder long. This longer article explained that the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the punks by Ross Mitchell Gayde, Bryce’s daddy, apparently after an unsuccessful attempt to shake the team and the stadium down for cash.

Ross Gadye said he met with general manager Mark Skeels and James Wankmiller, a co-owner, following the incident. He said they apologized and offered and free tickets, but Gadye said the boys wanted an apology from Cetnar, who was not at the meeting, and sued when there was no resolution.

Wankmiller, who declined to talk about whether the boys were asked to leave the ballpark and why, said they offered to meet with Gadye’s son and the other boys and never heard back from them. He said it boiled down to money.

We offered to sit with him and find out what his beef was and he asked for money,” Wankmiller said. “That was about it.”

So Daddy Gadye tried to pull a Jesse Jackson on them and extort some cash for the little hoodlums, and when the managers refused, he filed a lawsuit and started calling up newspapers and TV stations.

Now had this been me, MY father would have knocked my block off for not standing tall and showing the respect for our country that he taught me to have. Then he would have had me in that baseball team owner’s office, where I would have apologized like there was no tomorrow coming had I ever caused a scene like this. But then he was my father, not my buddy, and he saw to it that I at least knew right from wrong.

But apparently these little turds never learned that lesson. And in Bryce Gadye’s case, it’s easy to see why.

A follow-up search showed that Daddy Ross Gadye is not exactly a good or ethical attorney. I immediately found his name on a 2001 US Supreme Court Order of Attorney Discipline.

D-2279 IN THE MATTER OF DISCIPLINE OF ROSS M. GADYE

Ross M. Gadye, of New York, New York, having been suspended from the practice of law in this Court by order of October 29, 2001; and a rule having been issued and served upon him requiring him to show cause why he should not be disbarred; and the time to file a response having expired;

It is ordered that Ross M. Gadye is disbarred from the practice of law in this Court.

If was memorialized forever as 535 US 924 (2002).He was also admonished by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1999, apparently for practicing a case while under suspension in that jurisdiction. Even more, he also made this list of Lawyers Involved In Dishonest Conduct And Amounts Awarded To Their Clients 1982-2008. …]



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Ban “God Bless America” at MLB Baseball Games!

Film Jabber Blog, July 8, 2008

Things have changed since September 11th. Security at airports is more of a pain in the ass in the ever. For some reason, we still have to take off our shoes, as if the terrorists are really that dumb to put C4 in their shoes anymore. The United States is set at a constant state of Orange Alert, whatever that means. Countries can be attacked even without doing anything to the U.S. Our government can spy on us without a court order. However, we’re still looking for WMDs in Iraq.

But what pisses me off almost as much as having to take my shoes off at airports is listening to the song “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch of Major League Baseball games. The policy was implemented the day baseball returned to the airwaves after the attacks, and that is fine. The policy continued through the playoffs and World Series. OK.

Then “God Bless America,” if memory serves, played during the 7th Inning Stretch of every MLB game in 2002. A big baseball fan, I go to a lot of games. Maybe not as many as some, but I’d say 25 games a season is more than most people go to. That’s a lot of times to hear “God Bless America,” and think of the players – they have to hear it at least 162 days a year. Sure, the National Anthem and Take Me Out to the Ballgame are played every game, but one is our national anthem, and other is a pure baseball tradition. “God Bless America” is just something Bud Selig added to appeal to patriotic sensibilities, and presumably NASCAR fans.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m patriotic. Yes, I’m liberal AND patriotic (I don’t view the two as being mutually exclusive, at all). No, I don’t wear American flag underpants or burn Dixie Chick records or take everything (or anything) our President says at face value; in fact, I question most things our government tells us, and even what the national media tells us. But I love America and am proud to be an American, despite everything we do to the world.

So, when I say I hate the song, “God Bless America,” I am not being unpatriotic; I am simply saying that it is an overly used, annoying, biased and ultimately offensive piece of music.

Why should MLB not play “God Bless America” at its baseball games anymore? Here are a few reasons:

  • As an atheist, it mildly offends me. OK, in reality, I just don’t like hearing the song, but being forced to listen to “God Bless” stuff is just nauseating.
  • On that note, though, whenever I hear, “God Bless…” I think Christian. Which is fine, except baseball is a sport for all people and all religions, not just Christians. What do Muslims think? Hindus? Buddhists? Most don’t care; they live in a country based on Christian principles. Fine. But in an age of political correctness, shouldn’t the MLB be a little more… politically correct? (see, I actually suggest being PC when it’s in my best interest)
  • Furthermore and foremost, “God Bless America?” Isn’t that a little self-centered, a little pre-globalization. Patriotism and a little bit of nationalism is fine, but how about “God Bless the World?”I’d find that a lot less offensive, as we shouldn’t be concerned about whether God blesses this country but rather the world as a whole? “America” implies the United States, but a good chunk of baseball players are from other countries.

Why this random post? It has nothing to do with movies, though arguably it has to do with entertainment. But really, I just got really annoyed when, after listening to “God Bless America” at the baseball game, the Gasworks Park fireworks show on 4th of July (the biggest show in Seattle) did their finale to Celine Dion’s version of the song. Isn’t Dion a Canadian, for starters? And two, really? That song of all songs to do your finale to? No!


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God Bless America, Land That I Love

By Richard K. Hayes

The United States Senators sang it on the steps of the Capitol that fateful day, September 11, 2001, another “day that will live in infamy.” It was sung at the reopening of the stock market the following Monday, and  Canadian soprano Celine Dion sang it at the two-hour fundraiser “America: A Tribute to Heroes” on September 21.  The song was God Bless America, and on NBC’s Saturday Today show, after mentioning the national anthem and Willie Nelson’s rendition of America the Beautiful, it was reported that Ms. Dion sang “the song that galvanized the American spirit.”

In the days and weeks that followed the horrendous events of September 11, it was indeed God Bless America that was on the lips of Americans everywhere.  Baseball officials decreed that the anthem would be sung at the seventh inning stretch of all major league ballgames.  Flags were quickly printed, containing the title at the bottom.  And it appeared on marquees of eating establishments, tire stores, and car washes from coast to coast.

Today’s younger generations may not be familiar with the origin and history of the song Irving Berlin considered his most important composition.  It was written during the First World War, for an army camp show where Berlin was stationed: Camp Yaphank on Long Island.  The show’s producers rejected it as too jingoistic, so Berlin placed it in a trunk of rejected manuscripts.

There it lay for twenty years, until Ted Collins, manager of popular singer Kate Smith, approached Irving Berlin for a new patriotic song for Kate to introduce to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. Berlin had recently returned from a trip to England, during which he was saddened to see signs of another war in the making.  He was more thankful than ever to come back to his peaceful adopted homeland (his family had come to America from Russia when Irving was a small boy), so he was motivated to answer Collins’ request, on Kate’s behalf.

After several days of futile attempts to write a new patriotic song, Berlin remembered the one he had written in 1918.  He asked his secretary to retrieve it from the trunk, and he made a few changes to the lyrics.  One was from “Stand beside her and guide her/ To the right with a light from above” to through the night,” since “right wing” and “left wing” had taken on political connotations in the interim.  The line “From the mountains to the prairies/To the oceans white with foam” had originally been “From the green fields of Virginia to the gold fields out in Nome”, a decided improvement!

Now Kate Smith was the No. I popular songstress in America in 1938, and her weekly Kate Smith Hour was heard by many millions of radio listeners that Thursday, November 10.  The shy composer was invited to attend the show, but he declined, opting to listen with a few friends in his office at his music publishing company in New York.  Kate sang it as her closing number, after which Berlin’s phone began to ring, as people began to ask, ‘Where can we get that song that Kate Smith just sang.?” Berlin was so touched by those calls that he decided to attend the rebroadcast three hours later for the west coast audience.  At the conclusion of the broadcast, Kate called Irving to the stage and gave him a bearhug that swept him off his feet!

The new anthem electrified the nation and Kate sang it on nearly every broadcast through December 1940, after which there was a ban on public performances of ASCAP songs.  She had exclusive performance rights for a time.  She recorded it for RCA Victor on March 21, 1939, and that version has been reissued countless times over the years.

The lyrics were inserted into the Congressional Record, and there was a movement to make the song our national anthem.  Kate addressed Congress, imploring its members not to do that.  She argued that the Star Spangled Banner was written during a battle (Francis Scott Key wrote it during the War of 1812).  It fact, she recorded it on the flip side of God Bless America.

God Bless America was sung at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 1940, and again at the Republican national convention in Philadelphia July 31, 2000, the convention that nominated George W. Bush as our 43rd President.  At the latter a videotape of Kate singing it on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957 was played.  Although it was recorded by Bing Crosby, Barry Wood, Gene Autry, and Horace Heidt’s orchestra at the time, it was destined to be associated with Kate Smith forever, giving her a certain immortality, as well as a guaranteed standing ovation at all of her concerts.

In 1940 Irving Berlin established the God Bless America Foundation, with all royalties from its performance earned by either Berlin or Miss Smith going to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.  That arrangement exists to this day.  These organizations were chosen, to quote the contract, because “the completely nonsectarian work of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts is calculated to best promote unity of mind and patriotism, two sentiments that are inherent in the song itself.”

When Warner Brothers made “This Is The Army” into a technicolor motion picture in 1943, Berlin insisted that there be a scene in which Kate herself re-created her radio introduction of God Bless America.  She sang it complete with the seldom-heard verse.  When she died in 1986, that clip was played as part of nearly every television obituary.

An interesting chapter was added to the Kate Smith- God Bless America story in the twilight of her 50-year career.  Officials noted that when the national anthem was played at the opening of Philadelphia Flyers’ hockey games, the fans were not properly respectful, while they listened more quietly to Kate’s record of God Bless America.  Furthermore, a statistician noted that they won most games when the latter was played. Fans were given a surprise on October 11, 197 3, at the season opener, when Kate Smith walked across the red carpet on the ice to sing her anthem in person.  They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0. Announcer Gene Hart commented that Kate “brought chills and a standing ovation of three minutes. It fully met the ultimate definition of the word triumph.” At critical games Kate was driven down from New York to repeat the favor. When the Flyers clinched the championship and won the Stanley Cup by defeating the Boston Bruins 1-0, even the Bruins skated over to shake Kate’s hand. She was called their talisman and good luck charm; she loved the free publicity!  She repeated the role the next season, and the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres to retain the Stanley Cup. (Thanks to Steve for the correction to the name of the defeated team!)   In 1987 they erected a bronze statue in memory of their “rabbit’s foot” or “secret ice weapon,” who had died the previous year.

In one of the few positive results of the unspeakable events of September 11, God Bless America has played an essential part in rekindling a tremendous burst of patriotism at a time when it is needed more than ever in our great nation’s history.

Kate Smith Commemorative Society


Related Links:

Huffington Post: Yankee Baseball Fan Settles ‘God Bless America’ Lawsuit

Fin Law: God Bless America Lawsuit: Fan Gets $10K After Alleged “Compelled Patriotism” at Yankees Game


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