No. 1023



Back in the days when I was doing a lot more public speaking than I do today, I used to tell a joke that would make my mother so mad, especially when she heard me telling it. I used to tell folks that I grew up living in the back of a small-town restaurant. The kids in our town called it the “Greasy Spoon.” They said it was so bad the flies would try to get out.
This came to mind when I began to think about what I wanted to share with you today and that is the simple concept of patriotism. It has been said that a Patriot is someone who is proud of his country. Now, these questions please: are you patriotic and are you proud to be an American?
Well, I can tell you truthfully that I am very patriotic and I truly love America. Certainly our nation is not perfect, but it is still that shining city on the hill that President Ronald Reagan talked about and is still the best hope of mankind on earth. One thing is for sure, there are millions of people who want to get in but, with few exceptions, there are not many who want to get out, who are free to go if they are a citizen in good standing. Thus my earlier reference to the flies trying to get out of the Greasy Spoon.
Over the years no doubt you have heard the song “God Bless America” sung by the late, singer Kate Smith (1907-1986). When I hear this fabulous lady sing this song, it gives me goose bumps. Other than just enjoying and greatly appreciating this song, I did not know the history, or much about it until a friend sent it to me a while back. I guess one reason I love Kate Smith so much is that she was also patriotic. One reason this song became so popular is that it was timely, coming in 1940 when America was still in a terrible economic depression, Hitler was taking over Europe, and Americans were afraid we would have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.
Here is the story: 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. No entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith. Kate was also large -- plus size, as we now say. The popular phrase still used today is in deference to her -- “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Kate Smith may 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 time. Kate was also patriotic, as I said earlier, and 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 (who 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.
She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the public would receive the song, 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 song. To this day, “God Bless America” stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. When we stop to think about how truly blessed we are, and understand the price of freedom, we still believe this is the home of the free and the brave. To be sure, we have some work to do, but we are still that shining city on a hill and the best hope of mankind on earth.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)