Kate Smith will continue to serenade the sunset flag ceremony held nightly in the summer at Cape May Point since 1975, an owner of the family that runs the Sunset Beach gift shop said Thursday on Facebook.
Joining its neighbor Wildwood, whose mayor said Smith’s “God Bless America” will continue to be played on the Boardwalk despite the fact that she recorded two racist songs in the 1930s, Sunset Beach announced its own pushback against the anti-Smith actions.
“It Has Never Been About Kate Smith!” Daniel Hume declared on the Facebook page of the family-owned gift shop, miniature golf course, and snack bar.
Hume said that since the New York Yankees and the Flyers cut their ties with Smith, the family has been inundated with questions about its own Smith-blessed 20-minute ritual.
“Here is our response: We will continue to play Kate Smith’s rendition of ‘God Bless America.’ We will not litigate whether Kate Smith was a racist for two songs she sang in the 1930s,” Hume wrote. “We are also not going to defend the lyrics to those songs or why she sang them, or why other people would for that matter. We would never condone that kind of language or assume it is acceptable. Why she sang those songs, written by someone else, is not our question to answer. We aren’t going to make a proclamation or judgment on her overall character, worth, or being. That isn’t our prerogative.”
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano previously announced that his Shore town would continue its tradition of playing “God Bless America” each day at 11 a.m.
The Flyers removed Smith’s bronze statue from outside Xfinity Live! and announced they would no longer play the singer’s 1939 rendition of “God Bless America" before games, citing songs from the early 1930s that contained “lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.” The Yankees had reached the same decision.
The Flyers organization had covered the statue while it said it was reviewing the singer’s work, and it’s not clear what happened to the statue after it was removed, though Troiano said his town would gladly take it to display on the Boardwalk.
Smith and her rendition of “God Bless America” have been defended by veterans groups, who say her work on behalf of the troops and other causes eclipses concerns about the two songs.
Hume, a Marine veteran, noted that “while Kate Smith’s rendition of ‘God Bless America’ is a part of [the flag ceremony], it is not the reason for it.”
“The reason for this Flag Ceremony can be found in cemeteries and mausoleums across the country, in unmarked graves without names, and in U.S. service-member cemeteries on foreign shores,” Hume wrote. “This Ceremony has been and will always be about honoring the veteran whose flag flies, the family of that veteran, and honoring all those who have served out of a sense of patriotic service and duty to our nation.”
The flags, he said, "represent men and women of various backgrounds that ... at one time or another decided to defend us all, or at least be willing to pay the ultimate price.
“Remember that,” he wrote. “This is how we choose to honor that service. You don’t have to honor anyone’s service if you don’t want to. After all, this is a free country, but if you do choose to join us and the families present that are honoring their veteran, don’t come just to hear Kate Smith sing ‘God Bless America.’”