The Irving Berlin Trophy was established in 1956 by order of the Secretary of the Army. This annual prestigious award recognizes the US Army Entertainment program worldwide which presented an exceptional level of music and theater productions, activities and services to the community's soldiers, families, civilians and community members. Roadside Theater was presented with this trophy at the 2001 Army Europe One-Act Play Festival in recognition for continued excellence: presenting the community theater world premiere of "W;t; " winning the 2000 One-Act Festival ("W;t") and representing overseas Army installations at the AACT National Festival in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; winning a number of awards (including Best Drama and Best Director) at the Europe-wide "Topper" awards; hosting the Europe-wide One Act Play Festival; and producing the American community theater world premiere of "Les Miserables," among other productions, classes and special events.

Photo credit: the Irving Berlin Music Company. The image is of Sgt. Israel Beilin during World War I at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York

Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888, in Belarus (Russia) one of eight children. The family immigrated to New York in 1893. After his father died, Berlin, 13, took to the streets in various odd jobs, working as a husker singing for pennies, then as a singing waiter in a Chinatown Cafe. In 1907, he published his first song and by 1911, he had his first international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." As a sergeant in the Army, in 1918, he wrote and staged "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," at Camp Upton, Long Island, New York. In his lifetime, wrote 17 complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues including Call Me Madam and Annie Get Your Gun. Among his Hollywood movie musical classics were Top Hat, This is the Army, Easter Parade, White Christmas and There's No Business Like Show Business. Berlin was a businessman and philanthropist. He cofounded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and built his own Broadway theater, The Music Box. He was an unabashed patriot. He donated millions of dollars in royalties to Army Emergency Relief, the Boy and Girl Scouts, and countless other charities. In 1945, he received the Army's Medal of Merit from President Truman, and The Congressional Gold Medal in 1955 for God Bless America and other patriotic songs from President Eisenhower. He received the Freedom Medal from President Ford in 1977. On September 22, 1989, Irving Berlin died in his sleep in his town house in New York City. [from, the Irving Berlin Music Company]