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It reached No. The popularity of the song rose sharply after the September 11 attacks and during the invasion of Iraq , and the song was re-released as a single, re-entering the country music charts at No. Greenwood wrote God Bless the U. When I got to that point, we were doing days a year on the road, and we were on our fourth or fifth album on MCA. I called my producer, and I said I have a need to do this. I've always wanted to write a song about America, and I said we just need to be more united. The reason behind the cities chosen in the song Greenwood says, "I'm from California , and I don't know anybody from Virginia or New York , so when I wrote it—and my producer and I had talked about it—[we] talked about the four cities I wanted to mention, the four corners of the United States.
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The later version was notably recorded by Kate Smith , becoming her signature song. Irving Berlin wrote the song in while serving in the U. Music critic Jody Rosen says that a Jewish dialect novelty song, "When Mose with His Nose Leads the Band," contains a six-note fragment that is "instantly recognizable as the opening strains of 'God Bless America'". He interprets this as an example of Berlin's "habit of interpolating bits of half-remembered songs into his own numbers. In , Smith's rendition was featured in the patriotic musical This is the Army along with other Berlin songs. The manuscripts in the Library of Congress reveal the evolution of the song from victory to peace. The song was used early in the Civil Rights Movement as well as at labor rallies. Later, from December 11, ,  through the early s, the playing of Smith singing the song before many home games of the National Hockey League 's Philadelphia Flyers brought it renewed popularity as well as a reputation for being a "good luck charm" to the Flyers  long before it became a staple of nationwide sporting events.