GOD BLESS AMERICA

God Bless America – In thinking about our beautiful country of immigrants and wondering, how does it feel to be a new immigrant in the America of today? History is again repeating itself in the horrendous mistreatment of the Central American refugees.

“God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin one hundred years ago (1918) while Berlin was serving in the Army, but he set the song aside at that time. Berlin, born Israel Baline, was the son of a Jewish cantor fleeing persecution in Russia. With the rise of Hitler, in 1938 Berlin felt the time was right to release “God Bless America,” as a peace song. The backlash was immediate. Critics said a Jewish immigrant shouldn’t get to celebrate America as his (Berlin also wrote “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade,” and the popular Thanksgiving song “Plenty to be Thankful For.”)

In 1940, an American Nazi sympathizer wrote in his organization’s pro-Nazi newsletter “(I do) not consider G-B-A a ‘patriotic’ song, in the sense of expressing the real American attitude toward his country, but consider that it smacks of the ‘How glad I am’ attitude of the refugee horde of which Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘We wish no further additions to the persons whose affection for this country is merely a species of pawnbroker patriotism – whose coming here represents nothing but the purpose to change one feeding trough for another feeding trough.”

Does this response to Irving Berlin’s beautiful, patriotic, and now much beloved song sound familiar? Whether emigrating from Europe to America to escape religious persecution (the Pilgrims), starvation from the great potato famine (Irish), abject poverty, exploitation, and violence (Southern Italians and Sicilians), oppressive legislation and poverty (Eastern European Jews), or gang violence and rape (today’s Central American refugees) America is a country of immigrants and refugees. This is our past, our present, and our future. Irving Berlin arrived in America when he was five years old, the same age as many of the children being torn away from their mothers and fathers, some without any hope of ever being reunited with their parents. Imagine if Israel Baline had been torn from his mother’s arms, would we have the beautiful musical legacy given this country by one of her most famous sons?

God Bless America!, a phrase of gratitude young Israel Baline often heard uttered by his immigrant mother.

City Hall acoustics Inauguration Celebration 2018

Here are a few brief (less than 30 seconds each) sound snippets from the 2018 City of Gloucester Inauguration Celebration including Gordon Baird (God Bless America), Alexandra Grace, Josh Cominelli (National Anthem, You’ve Got A Friend), Fly Amero, John Ronan recitation (poem We, Helmsmen), Charlee Bianchini & Jack Tomaiolo (Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow). To see great photos and portraits of the day, see Kim Smith’s post Inspiring City of Gloucester Inauguration Ceremony 2018. To see the printed program and the Mayor’s full remarks, visit the city website: http://gloucester-ma.gov/index.aspx?nid=956. I’ll add Cape Ann TV video link if/when it’s ready. Ray Lamont’s excellent coverage in the Gloucester Daily Times Taking the Oath of Office 

Gloucester Daily Times Inauguration Celebration 2018 Ray Lamont article.jpg

 

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Reminder: Steve Allen at Duckworth’s Today at 5:00

539wJoin Steve Almond today at 5:00 at Duckworth’s Bistrot for a lively discussion of Stoner by John Williams.

For ticket information visit the events page of Eastern Point Lit House

SteveAlmondwithJude

For More information about the event see previous GMG post: Don’t Miss Steve Almond at Duckworth’s!

Don’t Miss Steve Almond at Duckworth’s!

539wJoin Steve Almond on September 15th at 5:00 at Duckworth’s Bistrot for a lively discussion of Stoner by John Williams.

SteveAlmond1_smallSteve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, three of which he published himself. His memoir Candyfreak was a New York Times Bestseller. His short stories have appeared in the Best American and Pushcart anthologies. His most recent collection, God Bless America, won the Paterson Prize for Fiction and was short-listed for The Story Prize. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and elsewhere.

SteveAlmondwithJudeFor ticket information visit the events page of Eastern Point Lit House

Duckworth's ©Kim Smith 2013 copyDuckworth’s Bistrot at 197 East Main Street, Gloucester

Eastern Point Lit House and Duckworth’s Bistrot invite you to join your favorite authors as they sit down over a glass of fine wine and fresh, seasonal appetizers to discuss a book that moves them. This is not a lecture–guests are strongly encouraged to engage in the discussion. Our goal is to have fun in a thoughtful way. Make sure to reserve your spot early. Seating is limited, and you’ll want to give yourself time to read the book of the month.

 Michelle Duckworth's ©Kim Smith 2013

Michelle serving some of Nicole’s ‘Sweet Treats’ at Duckworth’s

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Eastern Point Lighthouse Schooner Roseway ©Kim Smith 2013

Eastern Point Lit House is a center dedicated to expanding the literary arts in their home of Gloucester, Massachusetts, as well as the greater world. We want to help you tell your story and name your world. 

Located in Gloucester, Massahcusetts, America’s oldest fishing village and arts colony, we find inspiration every day surrounded by stunning beauty in all forms. We hope that one day you’ll be able to join us for a workshop, a writing retreat, a reading, or simply a cup of coffee. All are welcome. 

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Steve_Almond_ButtonPhotos of Steve Almond courtesy google image search.