Petition goes online to bring Kate Smith statue to Wildwood
WILDWOOD — An American Legion post has taken a step toward providing a new home for the Kate Smith statue taken down by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Smith's legacy has been under fire since it was discovered that she performed two songs with racist lyrics in the 1930s. The New York Yankees, who have played her iconic rendition of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch since the 9/11 attacks, said they would use other artists pending an investigation.
The Flyers pulled the song they have used since the late 1960s and took down the statue of Smith in front of their home arena
After learning that Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano supported bringing the rejected statue to the shore, American Legion Post No. 184 posted an online petition to make it a reality.
"Since the removal of the statue, tens of thousands of comments have been posted to social media disagreeing with the decision of the Philadelphia Flyers. Veterans in Wildwood support the Mayor's plea to move the statue and have created this petition to show the statue's owners just how much we care," reads the petition.
"Sure, why not? We're keeping her song. We're not throwing the song away," Troiano told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea on Wednesday. Troiano already said Smith's version of "God Bless America" would continue to be played daily at 11 a.m. on the boardwalk.
"I understand the controversy. I understand it was 88 years ago. I understand there was a different thought pattern back then. Do we allow that to happen today? No. 'God Bless America' is important to us because it's part of our boardwalk," the mayor said.
Post commander Harry Weimar, in a statement, said that Smith is "Miss Patriotism." Weimar said the statue would join Wildwood’s other veteran memorials, the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Memory Lane, on the boardwalk.
There is also an online petition urging the Flyers to restore the statue and to bring back Smith's version of the song.
Somerset Patriots owner Kalafer has offered to make a $10,000 donation to the Flyers "social justice" charity of their choice and pay to move to statue to the Patriots home field in Bridgewater.
A spokesman for the Flyers did not respond to a message asking if the team would consider moving the statue to Wildwood, and where the statue is being kept since its removal.
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