Top Ten Songs for Your Playlist This Memorial Day

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’

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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’

Radney Foster wrote this song about the aircrew who fly dead servicemen home, and what the military refers to as “Angel Flights.” His poignantly describe this journey: “I fly that plane called the Angel Flight / Gotta hero riding with us tonight/ Between heaven and earth you’re never alone /on the Angel Flight / Come on brother I’m taking you home.”

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’

After reading about the casualties from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, award-winning singer and songwriter Tim McGraw worked with the Warren Brothers to write a tribute. “If You’re Reading This” tells the story of family members who read their loved one’s last letter to them. McGraw sang the song on the 2007 ACM Awards, and the song made its way to the Top 5 of the Billboard Country Music charts.

4. ‘50,000 Names’

Country Music Hall of Fame singer George Jones’ song, “50,000 Names,” describes the experience of visiting the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The song depicts the extensive loss for the families of the 58,000 dead and 153,000 wounded because of the Vietnam War. It was written by the country music legend Jamie O’Hara.

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.

2. ‘Some Gave All’

A Billy Ray Cyrus fan favorite is his song, “Some Gave All,” which he wrote after visiting with a Vietnam veteran in 1989. In 2011, he re-recorded the song for his patriotic album “I’m American,” which included the guest appearances of Army veterans Craig Morgan, Marine Corp. Reserve member Jamey Johnson and U.S.O favorite Darryl Worley.

1. ‘More Than a Name on a Wall’

The Statler Brothers’ Jimmy Fortune wrote this song after visiting the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. The song was the last Statler Brothers song that reached the Top 10 on the 1989 Billboard country charts. Fortune reported that, “The spirit of the place will overwhelm you. I was standing there with soft music playing in the background. I was actually seeing a woman laying down flowers and tracing a name. All this stuff was playing out in my mind and this profound statement kept coming up in my head: They are more than a name on a wall.’
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