Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and it goes back to the Civil War. The idea was to take a day and place flowers or a flag on the graves of soldiers. There are a lot of country songs that have a patriotic theme to them. Our Top 10 list focuses on recent country songs that specifically honor fallen soldiers.
#10: More Than a Name On a Wall–This song was released in 1989 by the Statler Brothers, a country vocal quartet who had their first hit in 1965. It was inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, which was dedicated in 1982. It was the group’s last Top 10 hit.
#9: 50,000 Names–George Jones released this song in 2002, and it only reached #55 in the charts, but it’s a favorite of a lot of veterans who love classic country music. Like the previous song, it was inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but it actually has more than 50,000 names on it.
#8: Riding With Private Malone–David Ball released this song just one month before 9-11, and it struck a chord with country fans after the towers fell. The song was inspired by the story of a haunted 1966 Corvette.
#7: For You–Keith Urban was commissioned to write this song in 2012 for the movie “Act of Valor.” The movie showed the real life sacrifice of Navy SEALs, and Keith compared their commitment to his own devotion to his wife and family.
#6: If You’re Reading This–One of several songs released after 9-11. Tim McGraw debuted this song on the 2007 Academy of Country Music Awards, and it became a Top 10 hit, despite the fact that Tim had another song in the chart at the same time.
#5: Arlington–The song was inspired by the story of the first solider from Tennessee to die in the Iraq War. Trace Adkins released the song as a single in 2005. The follow-up, by the way, was “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”
#4: Just a Dream–Carrie Underwood had a #1 with this song, that tells the story of a woman going to church in her wedding dress, not to be married, but instead to attend the funeral of her husband, who had been killed in action.
#3: Some Gave All–Written and recorded in 1992 by Billy Ray Cyrus, it was inspired by a conversation he had with a Vietnam Veteran he met at a bar in Kentucky. The song was the title of Billy’s debut album that contained “Achy Breaky Heart,” and went on to sell over 9 million copies.
#2: American Soldier–Toby Keith wrote this song during one of his USO trips to Afghanistan. It was a 4-week #1 in the winter of 2004.
#1: I Drive Your Truck–This 2012 Lee Brice song was inspired by the story of the parents of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. When asked how they cope with the death of their only son, the father says he drives his late son’s truck. It won Song of the Year at the 2014 Academy of Country Music.