Country music dominates playlists of patriotic songs, from tunes suitable for 4th of July picnics to musical Memorial Day remembrances of soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice. Some of those same songs about the military hit the spot on Veterans Day: a time to remember not just those lost but also the veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in our families and communities.
Read on for a roundup of Veterans Day songs.
8. "Smoke on the Water," Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
Country music pioneer Red Foley scored a No. 1 hit during World War II with this 1944 composition about America's military might. Foundational country artist Bob Wills also took it to No. 1 with his Texas Playboys.
7. "I Drive Your Truck," Lee Brice
Some of the better patriotic country songs of the past 30 years, from The Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier" to this 2012 breakthrough hit for Lee Brice, consider more than the heroics of those that never made it back to the States. Listeners also get a feel for how people on the home front coped with immeasurable loss.
For a much older example of songwriters empathizing with the families and loved ones of soldiers killed in battle, check out Loretta Lynn's "Dear Uncle Sam."
6. "Letters From Home," John Michael Montgomery
In the before-mentioned "Travelin' Soldier," a special someone back home receives letters from and sends letters to a member of the U.S. Army. John Michael Montgomery tells a similar story from a soldier's perspective with this Top 2 hit from 2004.
5. "Bumper of My SUV," Chely Wright
Chely Wright stands up for her Marine sibling (and a long line of family members to serve in the Armed Forces) while challenging those who assume that any public display of patriotism reveals a person's political leanings.
4. "God Bless the U.S.A.," Lee Greenwood
Lee Greenwood pulled off something in 1984 that few popular artists from any time period can claim. He introduced a patriotic anthem that's almost as ubiquitous as "America the Beautiful" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
3. "American Soldier," Toby Keith
While "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" captures a moment in history that compelled many to enlist, this Toby Keith and Chuck Cannon co-write sums up what's always driven members of the U.S. military to risk it all to protect our freedom.
For a similar sentiment from one of Keith's greatest peers, add Trace Adkins' "Still a Soldier" to your playlist.
2. "Some Gave All," Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus' memories of a Vietnam War veteran named Sandy Cane make for one of the great story-songs about appreciating local war heroes while they're still with us.
1. "Ragged Old Flag," Johnny Cash
Air Force veteran Johnny Cash went a step further than simply saying that he loves America and its flag in this reaction to the Watergate scandal. He eloquently walks listeners through the history of Old Glory and reminds us of the heroics and sacrifices that have kept the flag flying from sea to shining sea.