The song was composed "Expressly for the Hearst San Francisco Relief Fund" after the earthquake and resulting fire that occurred in the city in April 1906. Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote the lyrics and Francesco Fanciulli wrote the music.
During the Korean War, Hardeman served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. In the letter he describes leaving the United States with his regiment: "Baby, I just got up to take a look, last look for a while, at the U.S.A. faiding [sic] away in the fog....
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