Written in the warmer climes of either California or Arizona (there are still two hotels that claim this distinction), Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940. He realized that it was not only his best song ever, but also reportedly told his secretary that it was the best song that anyone had ever written. However, when Bing Crosby first sang the song on Christmas Day in 1941, just weeks after Pearl Harbor, he really didn’t think much of it. Little did he realize the significance the song would come to have for the world.
Throughout World War II, this song came to represent everything that our troops were missing during the holiday season: I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow… It gave a momentary respite from the horrors of all they were experiencing. And, in spite of his first reaction, Crosby later reflected that the most difficult thing he ever had to do during his career was to sing White Christmas during a USO show in December of 1944 in northern France for around 100,000 G.I.s who were in tears without breaking down himself. The young men went on to fight, and many of them died, in the Battle of the Bulge a few days later. My own uncle was likely there for that show.
And so, on this day, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a day that will live in infamy, it seems only appropriate to remember all of those brave men and women who served in World War II and all of our foreign wars by sharing this beloved Christmas favorite.