Thursday, July 29, 2010


It is funny how a reference to an old song jars one’s memory of the good old days. That just happened while reading a book that made reference to the popular Frank Sinatra song “The House I Live In.”

If you are old enough to remember, Sinatra sang the song in a ten-minute short film produced by Frank Ross and Mervyn LeRoy to oppose anti-Semitism and racial prejudice at the end of World War ll. The song was so popular that it became a big hit, and the film received an Honorary Academy Award and a special Golden Globe award in 1946.

During the current rash of racial charges and counter-charges your Commander suggests it may be appropriate to read the inspirational lyrics or even sing the song again.

What is America to me?
A name, a map, or a flag I see;
A certain word, democracy.
What is America to me?

The house I live in,
A plot of earth, a street,
The grocer and the butcher,
Or the people that I meet;
The children in the playground,
The faces that I see,
All races and religions,
That's America to me.

The place I work in,
The worker by my side,
The little town or city
Where my people lived and died.
The howdy and the handshake,
The air and feeling free,
And the right to speak my mind out,
That's America to me.

The things I see about me,
The big things and the small,
The little corner newsstand,
And the house a mile tall;
The wedding and the churchyard,
The laughter and the tears,
And the dream that's been a growing
For a hundred-fifty years.

The town I live in,
The street, the house, the room,
The pavement of the city,
And the garden all in bloom;
The church, the school, the clubhouse,
The million lights I see,
But especially the people;
That's America to me.

The house I live in,
My neighbors white and black,
The people who just came here,
Or from generations back;
The town hall and the soapbox,
The torch of liberty,
A home for all God's children;
That's America to me.

The words of old Abe Lincoln,
Of Jefferson and Paine,
Of Washington and Jackson
And the tasks that still remain;
The little bridge at Concord,
Where Freedom's fight began,
Our Gettysburg and Midway
And the story of Bataan.

The house I live in,
The goodness everywhere,
A land of wealth and beauty,
With enough for all to share;
A house that we call Freedom,
A home of Liberty,
And it belongs to fighting people
That's America to me.

Remember that the song was released at the end of WWII when there was still very strong ethnic tensions across the country. I suggest that the lyrics could be put to an effective use by the Tea Party movement. Unfortunately, we will certainly not hear these words from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, because the song does not support their agenda of division and racial unrest.

Do you suspect that if we were successful in getting some artists to sing the song on national television or radio that it would cause irritable bowel syndrome at the ACLU, the Justice Department, and within the Halls of Congress or the White House? I bet the 9th Circuit Court would call an emergency meeting and rule against its airing as a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.


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