, after bearing witness
to the lambasting
of the United States
from the world
and in print
, Gordon Sinclair
He arrived at CFRB 75 minutes before the start of the first of his two morning broadcasts, "Let's Be Personal" which ran at 11:45, and was followed by a newscast at 11:50. It took 20 minutes to write and five minutes to air and to this day is still being passed on through the internet. By the time his secretary had given it a name, The Americans, and filed it away, the phones were already ringing.
A station in Buffalo was the first to request a tape copy and broadcast permission, both of which were freely given and the chain was started as other local stations obtained copies from Buffalo or directly from CFRB. By the time it reached Washington, D.C., a station had put an instrumental version of Bridge Over Troubled Water in the background and was broadcasting it repeatedly at fixed intervals, several times daily.
It was heard by people ranging from the average Joe in the street, to senators, to the President of the United States of America. It was read several times into the Congressional Record, and people assumed that it was recorded and started searching for a copy.
CFRB started making arrangements with AVCO, an American record company, to produce a single, but as they were finalizing a contract that would see all royalties due Sinclair be paid to the American Red Cross at Sinclair's request, it was learned that an unauthorized record, as read by another broadcaster, was already flooding the market. The other broadcaster agreed to turn over his royalties to the Red Cross, so no legal action was taken.
AVCO released Sinclair's recording of his own work to which was added The Battle Hymn of the Republic. It sold well, but not as well as if the other recording had not been previously released. Other versions were released with permission, including one by Tex Ritter, who preceded it with a credit to Sinclair. The American Red Cross received millions of dollars in royalties and Gordon Sinclair was honored with a special ceremony to acknowledge his donation.
Sinclair received many invitations to functions and honorariums in the US. Due to sheer number and other issues he had to decline. CFRB newscaster Charles Doering was flown in his stead to Washington to give a public reading of "The Americans" to the 28th National Convention of the United States Air Force Association, backed by the US Air Force Concert Band and the 100-voice Singing Sergeants in a special arrangement of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" held on September 18, 1974.
At the welcoming ceremonies on Parliament Hill when President Ronald Reagan made his first official visit to Canada, he praised the journalist who wrote that tribute to the United States when it needed a friend. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had Sinclair flown to Ottawa to be his guest at the reception that evening. He and Reagan had a long conversation in which Reagan told him that he had a copy of "The Americans" at his California ranch home, which he played when things looked gloomy.
Sinclair suffered a heart attack on the evening of May 15th, 1984, following a regular day's broadcasting. He passed away two days later, on May 17th. As word of his condition spread, calls inquiring after him were being received from as far as Texas. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune of May 18th editorial was typical: A Good Friend Passes On
Upon learning of his death, Reagan said, "I know I speak for all Americans in saying the radio editorial Gordon wrote in 1973 praising the accomplishments of the United States was a wonderful inspiration. It was not only critics abroad who forgot this nation's many great achievements, but even critics here at home. Gordon Sinclair reminded us to take pride in our nation's fundamental values."
First was held a private family service, then two thousand people from all stations filled Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto's City Hall for a public service organized by Mayor Art Eggleton. And finally, tens of thousands more joined them through a live broadcast of the service, beginning at 11:45, the regular time of Sinclair's daily broadcast of Let's Be Personal. As spoken by Ontario Premier William Davis, "The name Gordon Sinclair could become the classic definition of a full life."
Following is what was the original
broadcast from 1973. This differs slightly from the nearly ubiquitous
version to be found online
and being forwarded
through email called America: The Good Neighbor
The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971 and this Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least-appreciated people in all the earth.
As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtse. Who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did.
They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges and the Niger. Today, the rich bottomland of the Mississippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.
When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When distant cities are hit by earthquakes, it is the United States that hurries in to help... Managua, Nicaragua is one of the most recent examples. So far this spring, 59 American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.
The Marshall Plan .. the Truman Policy .. all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent war-mongering Americans.
I'd like to see one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes.
Come on... let's hear it! Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star or the Douglas 107? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon?
You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times ... and safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everyone to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, most of them ... unless they are breaking Canadian laws .. are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend here.
When the Americans get out of this bind ... as they will... who could blame them if they said 'the hell with the rest of the world'. Let someone else buy the Israel bonds, Let someone else build or repair foreign dams or design foreign buildings that won't shake apart in earthquakes.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke. I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble.
Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbours have faced it alone and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles.
I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians. And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th Annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.
This year's disasters .. with the year less than half-over? has taken it all and nobody...but nobody... has helped.