Kate Smith Another Piece Of History Erased

Aug. 9, 2019 Editor, The News-Gazette:

It was 1942, not a very good year. Our nation had recently declared war to preserve our freedoms. Up north on U. S. 11 a young boy was enjoying one of his last meals with his father. The man would soon go to war. It was either to a place, like here, where one can peacefully live out a life or a place where men were asked not to grow old.

The kid was not sure which. Later his mother told the boy that it was to be a safe place, one where your father would return from sitting behind a desk in front of many maps. However, the mother failed to mention that on those maps were places men did not return. The father knew.

Like most family restaurants in those days, there was a jukebox where you could hear your favorite song. So the father gave the boy a nickel to play B7, I believe it was. And there she was, born in a town south on U.S. 11, Greenville, Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.” The boy could see tears in his father’s eyes. He did not know why.

Finally, the war ended. However, there would be more wars. Today, some say we are at war with ourselves, with one society wishing to learn from the past and another thinking it best to erase history.

On a recent trip to Philadelphia I saw history erased, a statue of Kate Smith was removed. It was not because she once sang her signature song to hype hockey fans, but because she also sang words that demeaned those who look different.

Many years have past. I know now why my father cried. It is the song’s simple prayer for divine guidance, one that recognizes human judgment, taken alone, is not a reliable compass. Passions of the times can point needles in a wrong direction.

So sing it, Kate! Sing about God and America. Without the former, we would not have the latter.

DAVID REYNOLDS

Rockbridge County

The News-Gazette

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