Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On this day in 1955, Irving Berlin received a gold medal from President Eisenhower

On this day in 1955, President Eisenhower presented LES-raised songwriter Irving Berlin a gold medal for penning such patriotic hits as "God Bless America."

During World War II, Berlin wrote the musical This is the Army, which raised $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief and later dedicated the copyright for "God Bless America" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which has since raised millions of dollars for those organizations.

By the age of eight, Berlin sold newspapers on The Bowery and became a singing waiter at some of the district's rowdiest saloons. During his 60+ year career, he composed over 1000 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, earning him eight Academy Award nominations -- making him arguably the most successful songwriter in American history.