Happy birthday to Irving Berlin, one of the most successful song writers in American history.
He is the author of “White Christmas”, even though he was Jewish, and “God Bless America”, even though he was born in Russia.
In 1888, Russia ramped up it’s “Pogroms” against Jews. In Russian, the word pogrom means “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.”
At that time, Irving Berlin was five years old. He hid under a blanket on the side of the road with his parents and seven brothers and sisters while his house was burnt to the ground by the government. The family, like many others sought and was allowed refuge in America.
Berlin joined the U.S. army to fight in World War One. In 1918, he wrote “God Bless America.’ His daughter said he wanted to thank America for all it had given him, and that is was a song about the gratitude of an immigrant boy gone good.
The song wasn’t released until 20 years later, by Vaudeville star Kate Smith. It became a kind of second national anthem as world war two approached.
Berlin thought it wouldn’t be right if he made a bunch of money off the song he wrote to thank his country, so gave the royalties to the boy and girl scouts of America. The scouts have made millions of dollars off of the song, and continue to do so today.
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