God Bless America” Royalties Donated to Scouting Organizations-Truth!  But Inaccurate Details!

Summary of eRumor:


This is a forwarded email about Kate Smith and the Irving Berlin song “God Bless America.”   It contains a link to a film clip and says that Irving Berlin donated the royalties of the song to the Boy Scouts of America.

The Truth:

Royalties from the song were donated to the Boy Scouts of America, according to the Library of Congress web site but proceeds were also contributed to the Girl Scouts of America organization.    Click for Library of Congress.

Some of the facts in the eRumor are incorrect.

The song was originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918 while he served in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York.  It was later rewritten in 1938 as a peace song with “some alterations to reflect the different state of the world” during a time when Nazi Germany was threatening war with Europe.

You’re in the Army Now” was entirely a different movie.  The correct movie title is “This Is The Army,” released by Warner Brothers in 1943 and starred future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.  Irving Berlin, who also appeared in the film, was one of the writers for the movie’s screenplay.  Berlin wrote the script for the musical Broadway production by that same title.

God Bless America” was originally introduced and performed live on Armistice Day, November 11, 1938 by Kate Smith on her radio program.  It became an immediate hit resulting in the popular demand for the sheet music. Afterwards, Berlin established the God Bless America Fund where proceeds from royalties were donated to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

 Kate Smith God Bless America performance on Armistice Day 1938 from the movie “This is the Army” on YouTube

updated 12/4/10

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Kate Smith

In early 1940, Kate Smith, a fiercely patriotic American, and the biggest star on radio, was deeply worried about her country. She asked Irving Berlin if he could give her a song that would re-ignite the spirit of American patriotism and faith. He said he had a song that he had written in 1917, but never used it. He said she could have it.

She sat at the piano & played it and realized how good it was. She called Mr. Berlin and told him that she couldn’t take this from him for nothing. So, they agreed that any money that would be made off the song would be donated to the Boy Scouts of America.

Thanks to Kate Smith and Irving Berlin, the Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties.

This clip is from the movie “You’re in the Army Now”. You will see a familiar face in this one that we are all very proud of.

Frank Sinatra said that when Kate Smith, whom he considered the greatest singer of his age, first sang this song on the radio, a million guys got ‘dust’ in their eyes and had to wipe the tears the ‘dust’ caused.

See If you can watch and listen without ‘dust’ getting in your eyes. Sit back and enjoy a real star.