Fri, 27 Dec 2013

Why US Presidents End Their Speeches with God Bless America

Every American and a host of other people around the globe anticipate the speeches that US Presidents make. These speeches are good gauges on knowing the status of the United States and other issues concerning the country. For most, however, presidential speeches are a great way to find out more about the President himself.

One thing that is common with most of these speeches was the last words. Not many know why US Presidents end their speeches with God Bless America.

President Richard Nixon

The practice of ending a major speech that way is traced back to former US President Richard Nixon but the phrase itself is attributed to a song of that title written for a comedy musical about World War I. Irving Berlin, a popular Broadway writer and composer, wrote the song while serving the country after he was drafted in 1918.

Because of his talent, Berlin was tasked to create the music for Yip! Yip! Yaphank!, a comedy show featuring soldiers. The song was later scrapped from the show as it did not fit with its not-so-solemn theme.

President Ronald Reagan

In 1938, Kate Smith who was a popular singer at the time, was allowed to perform the song after Berlin tweaked some of the original lyrics. Fast forward to 1982 and former President Ronald Reagan can be seen honoring Smith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. But why US Presidents end their speeches with God Bless America?

Tradition Started By President Nixon

The reason why US Presidents end their speeches with God Bless America is mostly because of tradition started by Nixon. On April 30, 1973, Nixon gave a major address from the Oval Office regarding the scandal he was involved in at the time.

He was trying to appease an angered but mostly bewildered nation after news of the Watergate scandal broke out. In the speech, he informed the country of the resignation of three of his high-ranking officials as a result of the issues the administration was embroiled in.

Even though the reason and content of his speech was mostly negative, he tried to add some positivity towards the end. In the speech, the embattled former US President said that his term has "1,361 days remaining" and that he wished those days be "the best days in America's history."

He then asked everyone to pray and "help me in everything that I do throughout the days of my presidency." That was right before he expressed, "God bless America and God bless each and every one of you."

God Bless America Is A Political Strategy

At first, the phrase did not catch on. Former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter didn't use the phrase. But not Reagan. He decided to add the phrase after all his major speeches including his nomination acceptance speech. Since then, every US President after Reagan has used the phrase to end their speeches.

Some believe that the reason why US Presidents end their speeches with God Bless America is for them to appeal to the religious population of the country and perhaps to other believers in God all over the world. In a way, the phrase is a political strategy.

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