The song “God Bless America” became a staple around sports venues following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was a way for the people of this nation to show patriotism at a time when our whole way of life was being threatened.
It was also during this time that sports acted as a necessary outlet. A way for Americans to attempt to get on with their lives with some sense of normalcy.
Apparently none of this matters to NY Daily News columnist Gersh Kuntzman, who wants Major League Baseball to put an end to the tradition of honoring America with this song during the seventh inning stretch.
In the process, Kuntzman came to the unbearably ignorant and ridiculous conclusion that the song itself is “offensive” and somehow represents fascism.
“Part of my outrage stems from ponderous Mussolini-esque introduction of the song, when fans are asked to rise, remove their caps and place them over their hearts,” Kuntzman wrote. “Reality check, friends: “God Bless America” is not the National Anthem. The only songs Americans should stand for are “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Here Comes the Bride.”
Um, what? There really aren’t many words we can use to express just how absurd this statement is.
First off, “Bridal Chorus,” better known as “Here Comes the Bride” here in the United States, is from the German opera “Lohengrin” and was created in the 1850’s. How’s that more “American” than the song Kuntzman is attacking here?
Irving Berlin, a native of Russia, first wrote “God Bless America” in 1918 when he was serving in the United States Army during World War I. He revised the song 20 years later during World War 2.
Despite this, the NY Daily News columnist decided to ignore this patriotic aspect of the song.
“Even Irving Berlin, who wrote “God Bless America” in 1918, considered it so maudlin and depressing that he stuck it in a drawer,” Kuntzman continued. “Twenty years later, as the world prepared for war, Kate Smith asked Berlin for a patriotic song for her radio show. He pulled out “God Bless America” and changed one lame line — “the gold fields up in Nome” — to an even lamer line — “oceans white with foam.”
Not a single mention of the fact that this song came to Berlin while he was serving in what has been dubbed the Great War.
As it relates to Smith, she made the song popular with her renditions of it at Philadelphia Flyers games. It’s been a tradition in hockey games in Philadelphia ever since.
As we prepare for the Fourth of July holiday during these most uncertain of times, an article such as the one referenced here shouldn’t be ignored. It’s this type of ignorance that has this country in the place it’s in right now.
The only way to stand up to this is by combating the pure arrogance of those who think they can get away with throwing out the identity we share as Americans, this song and those behind it included.