Country music has a long history of honoring those who have served in the armed forces, especially those who were willing to die for what they believe in.
Notable songs date back to Ernest Tubb’s “Soldier’s Last Letter,” which spent four weeks at the top of the country chart in 1944.
Poignant stories abound, but many of them are rarely — if ever — shared by those who modestly downplay their contributions. As we celebrate the holiday, here are several music videos that tell those stories.
“Some Gave All,” Billy Ray Cyrus (1992)
The star of CMT’s Still the King has gained a lot of media attention lately with the 25th anniversay of his mega-hit “Achy Breaky Heart.” The title track of his 1992 debut album, Some Gave All, wasn’t a huge hit at radio, but it became one of his signature songs and proved that the Kentucky native had a lot more to offer than a cool haircut and fancy stage moves.
“American Soldier,” Toby Keith (2003)
Simply stating the emotions of a soldier who’s called to duty, Keith was inspired to write the song with Chuck Cannon after meeting troops during his USO tours.
“Arlington,” Trace Adkins (2005)
The song was inspired by U.S. Marine Cpl. Patrick Nixon, the first soldier from Tennessee killed during the war in Iraq. Songwriter Dave Turnbull wrote it with Jeremy Spillman after meeting the soldier’s father.
“I Drive Your Truck,” Lee Brice (2013)
It’s a tribute to Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti, who was killed in battle in Afghanistan in 2006. Songwriter Connie Harrington got the idea for the lyrics after hearing his father interviewed on National Public Radio. She wrote it with Jimmy Yeary and Jessi Alexander.
“8th of November,” Big & Rich (2005)
Kris Kristofferson narrates the introduction to this true story about Vietnam veteran Niles Harris and his experience on Nov. 8, 1965 when the 173rd Airborne Brigade was ambushed by more than 1,200 Vietcong soldiers. It was written by John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin.
“If You’re Reading This,” Tim McGraw (2007)
McGraw teamed with Brad and Brett Warren to write the song about a soldier’s letter that’s intended to be sent only if he dies. McGraw debuted it on the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards.
In “Just a Dream,” an 18-year-old woman finds her life forever changed when she attends the funeral of her husband, a soldier who has been killed in action. The powerful song was composed by Steve McEwan, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson.