The country site, Taste of Country, compiled a list of what it considers are the top ten songs “to honor those that have given the ultimate sacrifice,” especially those who “experience the heartbreaking tragedy of losing a loved one.” Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in battle. The songs below tell the stories of some of those who died fighting for freedom.
10. ‘Go Rest High on That Mountain’– Vince Gill
Country singer, Vince Gill, wrote a eulogy after one of his friends died, but didn’t finish it until after his brother died a few years later. The result was the 1995 Grammy-winning song, “Go Rest High on that Mountain.” Backed by Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless, Gill’s tribute focuses on the celebration of life and loss.
9. ‘Ballad of the Green Berets’
In 1966, Staff Sergeant of US Army Special Forces Barry Sadler recorded a tribute, “Ballad of the Green Berets,” that hit #2 on the country music charts. Sadler hope to honor American troops with these words: “Put silver wings on my son’s chest / Make him one of America’s best / He’ll be a man they’ll test one day / Have him win the Green Beret.” The song was used in the 1968 film, The Green Berets, starring John Wayne.
8. ‘8th of November’
The country duo Big and Rich wrote the song, the “8th of November,” to honor the men who died on that day in 1965. On November 8, 1965, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was ambushed in Vietnam and 48 American soldiers died.
7. ‘Angel Flight’
6. Arlington National Cemetery Tribute
In 2005, Trace Adkins sang a tribute to those resting in Arlington National Cemetery, from the perspective of a fallen soldier: “I never thought that this is where I’d settle down / I thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown / They gave me this plot of land / me and some other men, for a job well done.”
Taste of Country writes: “Although the single did not speak out against the war, some families of active military felt uncomfortable with the story and were offended by the assumption of what a dead soldier might think. After much consideration, Adkins stopped promoting the single to radio.”
5. ‘If You’re Reading This’
4. ‘50,000 Names’
3. ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’
Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” is perhaps one of America’s most patriotic songs. His 1984 hit Greenwood sings, “I’m proud to be an American / Where at least I know I’m free / And I wont forget the men who died / Who gave that right to me.”
He wrote the song after he won the Country Music Awards (CMA) Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1983, and in 1985, the song won the CMA Song of the Year.