Ever since he wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” Irving Berlin has been the country’s hottest popular composer.
Now the songwriter is a sergeant. Berlin, whose family came to America to escape anti-Jewish violence in Russia, became a citizen in February…and was drafted in March.
He and 300 soldiers opened a musical spoof of Army life on Broadway tonight to a sold-out house. But one patriotic number he’d written didn’t make Berlin’s final cut. Too solemn, he said.
Friday, November 11, 1938
To celebrate Armistice Day, Berlin dusted off that long-forgotten song for Kate Smith’s weekly radio show. She sang it for the first time last night, and it’s a hit.
It’s called “God Bless America.”