Darryl Worley Remembers Patriotic Spirit

The video for Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” debuts on CMT Most Wanted Live this Saturday (March 8) at 7 p.m. (ET/PT). Immediately following the premiere, the video will be streamed here at CMT.com.

With his latest single being labeled as a pro-war anthem, Darryl Worley looks tired after an hour of fielding questions from radio network reporters. Worley was inspired to write “Have You Forgotten?” after visiting U.S. military installations overseas, and now he finds himself at the center of a media storm.

As he folds his 6-foot-6 frame into a red leather chair, he manages a warm smile and talks more about the song that delves into the lingering aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “I know that no one has really forgotten,” Worley tells CMT News. “Well, maybe a few. But the question is posed to bring it back to their consciousness and just to make them think about it a little bit. Because I think we’re in equally as dangerous, if not more, times in our nation right now.” Wincing, he adds, “And that’s pretty scary.”

But what have been mere headlines to most Americans, Worley has seen firsthand. He spent the 2002 Christmas holidays entertaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan. And he admits the experience has made him a different man. “It’s really changed my life,” he says, straightening in his chair. “I think it’s probably made me a better person to be in their [soldiers] company. They have a character and some qualities that are not common to everyone else.”

Those troops and the realities of life in the field are still fresh in his mind. He laughs nervously. “We’d stand in the compounds and they’d say, ‘You know, a missile hit right over there last night, and there’s nothing to say that it couldn’t happen right now.’ It would be like if I pulled a gun on you right now. You would feel very vulnerable. And it’s 24/7 with that feeling, and they don’t complain about it. They’re really amazing people, and I just came back with so much respect and admiration for them that I had to do something to honor them.”

From that sense of obligation and gratitude, he teamed up with veteran songwriter Wynn Varble to write “Have You Forgotten?” He says, “I love those soldiers, and I know that they love me.” Frustration cracks Worley’s voice when he adds, “And this is all I know how to do for them.”

Nowhere in the song is Worley’s tribute more apparent than in the song’s bridge. “I’ve been there with the soldiers/who’ve gone away to war/and you can bet that they remember/just what they’re fighting for.”

“We had soldiers to say to us, ‘We’re fighting for you and your families over here, and we need you to go home and fight for us.’ And that’s what I’m doing. I would do anything I could to help them.” And he has far exceeded the duties of the average USO entertainer by personally contacting friends and family of those stationed overseas. “I had so many people to ask me favors,” he notes. “I’ve got a pocketful of phone numbers and addresses, and I’m just about to get all of them done.” Having relayed their words of love and assurance, he says, “I was thrilled to do it. It meant a lot to them. … It’s a little comfort in that time of complete and total tension and stress that might make a difference in these people’s lives.”

But while his song is a call to arms, Worley hopes it means more than that. “If this song touches or brings comfort to just a handful of those men and women who have had their spouses to be deployed to war. [To the] mothers who have had to hug their sons and daughters goodbye, if there’s some comfort for them in this song, it would be worth it.”