21 Of The Most Powerful Country Songs About The Military

(Left) Toby Keith / YouTube / (Top & Bottom Right) Capital Concerts / YouTube

Country Singers Pay Tribute To Members Of The U.S. Military In Emotionally Driven Songs

Many country singers show their respect for the U.S. military in their songs. Some of these songs are sad or mournful, while others are more celebratory. But all of these songs are impactful and emotionally driven.

For several artists, these songs come from a place of personal experience. Singers such as Craig Morgan and Kris Kristofferson served in the military themselves. So they have firsthand knowledge of the daily challenges our servicemen and women face.

Many country artists have dedicated their songs to the military
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Head below to see our list of 21 powerful country songs that honor the U.S. military. Some of these songs may be hard to listen to without crying…

21 Times Country Artists Honored The Military With Their Songs

“Arlington” By Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins has been a steadfast supporter of the troops from the earliest days of his career. He’s recorded many songs in tribute to the military, perhaps none more moving than 2005’s “Arlington.”

Jeremy Spillman and Dave Turnbull co-wrote “Arlington.” Turnball felt inspired to write the song after meeting the father of United States Marine Corps Corporal Patrick Nixon, who lost his life in battle in 2003. He and Spillman wrote “Arlington” from the perspective of a fallen servicemember who’s buried at Arlington National Cemetary.

The duo’s expert songwriting and Adkins’ emotional delivery helped lead the song to the 16th spot on the Hot Country Songs chart. Over the years, Adkins has continued to perform “Arlington” live in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Letters From Home” By John Michael Montgomery

Songwriter David Lee got the idea to write “Letters from Home” after watching a soldier say goodbye to his girlfriend in the airport. He joined Tony Lane to write the song, which John Michael Montgomery recorded and released in 2004.

In “Letters From Home,” Montgomery sings about the letters a soldier receives from his loved ones back home, including his girlfriend, mother, and father. The last letter, from his father, leaves the young man in tears as he professes how proud he is of him.

“Letters from Home” reached the second spot on the Hot Country Songs chart following its release.

“The Dash” By Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery recorded the “The Dash” for his 2013 album See You Tonight. Kyle Jacobs and Preston Brust co-wrote the devastating song, which tells the story of a young man who was killed in action while serving his country.

The song was written in memory of Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Carpenter, who was killed in Afghanistan

McCreery was honored to perform “The Dash” during PBS’ National Memorial Day Concert in 2017. He performed the song in tribute to SFC Lewis Clark Walton, who was killed during the Vietnam War.

SFC Walton’s widow and children were in the audience and cried while listening to McCreery sing. You can watch his touching performance in the video above.

“American Soldier” By Toby Keith

The late Toby Keith was a passionate and outspoken supporter of the U.S. military. He proudly expressed that support in his songs, including “American Soldier.”

Keith co-wrote “American Soldier” with Chuck Cannon. He felt inspired to write the track after visiting servicemembers on his many USO tours.

The song is sung from the perspective of a soldier who proudly suits up to serve his country, although he’s well aware of what the sacrifice may be.

“American Soldier” reached the #1 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and has been certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA.

“Soldier’s Last Letter” By Merle Haggard

Country singer-songwriter Redd Stewart was inspired to write “Solider’s Last Letter” after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.

The heartbreaking song tells the story of a mother who receives a letter from her son who’s fighting in the war. Once she finishes reading, she comes to the sad realization that her son was killed in battle, and she says a prayer for those still fighting for the U.S. overseas.

Ernest Tubb added some finishing touches to the track and was the first to record it in 1944. His version held on to the #1 spot on the chart for four weeks.

Johnny Wright and Hank Snow both covered the song in later years. But Merle Haggard’s 1970s rendition is the most well-known, although it didn’t chart as high as Tubb’s original (it reached #3).

“Some Gave All” By Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus sings about the ultimate sacrifice in “Some Gave All.” He co-wrote the song with his then-wife, Cindy, and it was featured as the title track of his 1992 album.

In “Some Gave All,” Cyrus sings about a veteran named Sandy Cane. Cane would tear up as he’d speak about his fallen brothers in arms.

As the lyrics go, “All gave some, some gave all. Some stood through for the Red, White and Blue. And some had to fall…

“Til The Last Shot’s Fired” By Trace Adkins

Rob Crosby and Doug Johnson co-wrote “Til The Last Shot’s Fired,” which Adkins recorded for his 2008 album, X. The song has Adkins taking on the voice of fallen servicemembers from the Civil War and World War II. 

He sings, “Say a prayer for peace, for every fallen son. Set my spirit free, let me lay down my gun. Sweet mother Mary I’m so tired. But I can’t come home ’til the last shot’s fired.”

Adkins never released “Til The Last Shot’s Fired” as a single. But it received unsolicited airplay after he delivered a stirring performance of the song with The West Point Cadet Glee Club in 2009. It peaked at the 50th spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.

“If You’re Reading This” By Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw co-wrote “If You’re Reading This” with Brad Warren and Brett Warren. The trio felt inspired to write the song after reading a news report about those who were killed in battle.

McGraw sings as a servicemember who wrote a letter home to his pregnant wife. Sadly, the man indicates that if his wife is reading the letter, that means he’s already home…for his burial.

McGraw delivered a tear-jerking performance of the track on the ACM Awards, where he was joined onstage by 100 relatives of fallen servicemembers.

“If You’re Reading This” reached the third spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.

“Riding With Private Malone” By David Ball

“Riding With Private Malone” is undoubtedly one of the most emotional country songs about the military. Wood Newton and Thom Shepherd co-wrote the track, which tells the story of a veteran who buys a 1966 Corvette shortly after finishing his military service.

The man discovers a note from the car’s former owner, Private Andrew Malone, who was killed in the Vietnam War. After the man restores the car and starts driving it, he believes he can feel the presence of Private Malone. His belief is strengthened when he gets in a serious car accident, and a witness reports seeing a soldier save him from the wreckage.

David Ball recorded “Riding With Private Malone” and released it as a single in 2001. The song reached the second spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.

“Heaven Was Needing A Hero” By Jo Dee Messina

Jo Dee Messina released “Heaven Was Needing a Hero” in 2010 as a tribute to the military’s fallen brothers and sisters. As the narrator, Messina sings as someone who lost a loved one in battle.

She sings, “I guess Heaven was needing a hero. Somebody just like you. Brave enough to stand up, for what you believe, and follow it through.”

Messina had the honor of performing “Heaven Was Needing a Hero” during the National Memorial Day Concert in 2023.

“Soldier” By Craig Morgan

As mentioned earlier, when Craig Morgan sings about the military, he draws from personal experience. Morgan served in the Army for nine and a half years and the Army Reserve for an additional six years.

Morgan reenlisted in 2023 and was sworn into the Army Reserve on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Three years prior, Morgan included a song called “Soldier” on his album God, Family, Country. Gavin DeGraw wrote and originally released the track in 2011 as a love song.

But when Morgan covered “Soldier,” he reinterpreted it as a tribute to those who serve, whether in the military, the medical field, or as first responders.

“Folded Flag” By Aaron Lewis

In 2017, Aaron Lewis released a powerful tribute to fallen servicemembers titled “Folded Flag.” The track was written by Marty Morgan, Luc Nyhus and Yasmine Van Wilt.

In today’s world, the ultimate sacrifice that our servicemen and women give selflessly in protection of the American Dream is often overlooked,” Lewis said, as quoted in a press release from Big Machine Label Group. “The first time I heard this song, I watched three battle-hardened special forces soldiers cry after hearing it. I knew it hit home and I knew it deserved to be heard.

The song always elicits strong emotions whenever Lewis sings it.

“50,000 Names” By George Jones

Country music legend George Jones recorded a compelling tribute to the lives lost during the Vietnam War. That song, titled “50,000 Names,” was written by Jamie O’Hara.

The title refers to the more than 50,000 names engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial serves as a tribute to those killed in battle or who remained missing after the war.

Jones released “50,000 Names” in 2001 as a track on his album The Rock: Stone Cold Country.

“Soldier’s Gift” By Josh Turner

Josh Turner included the song “Soldier’s Gift” on his 2021 Christmas album King Sized Manger. Scooter Carusoe and Tom Douglas wrote the track, which relays how the Christmas season can be a lonely time for servicemen and women who can’t come home to spend the holiday with their families.

As Turner sings, “Yeah, tonight there’s a soldier in a land far away. While the children listen for the bells on a sleigh. We’ve never met ’em, names not on our list. But you’ll sleep well America, that’s the soldier’s gift.”

“Empty Chair” By Trace Adkins

Adkins honored the fallen once more when he recorded “Empty Chair” for his 2021 album, The Way I Wanna Go.

Lance Miller, David Frasier, and Lonnie Fowler co-wrote “Empty Chair.” The narrator shares how he often sees a group of veterans eating together at their local diner. But they always leave one chair empty in a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

As Adkins sings, “But you can almost smell the gun smoke, and the foxholes that they shared, on the days they raise their coffees, and toast the empty chair.

Adkins had the honor of performing “Empty Chair” during the National Memorial Day Concert in 2023.

“If I Don’t Make It Back” By Tracy Lawrence

“If I Don’t Make It Back” was one of the new tracks Tracy Lawrence featured on his 2005 album Then & Now: The Hits Collection. Brett Jones and Bobby Pinson wrote the devastating song.

Lawrence sings as the best friend of a soldier preparing to leave for battle. The soldier tells his buddy everything he wants him to do if he doesn’t make it back home.

The song takes a sad turn as it reaches the end. That’s when Lawrence reveals his friend didn’t make it back. He continues to honor him in all of the ways he asked him to.

“Old Army Hat” By Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson based his song “Old Army Hat” on a true story about his friend and his father. He included the track on his 2014 album Life!, and featured The Great American Choir on the recording, which was a mashup with “America the Beautiful.”

Anderson tells a story about a grandpa who served in World War II. However, as the years passed and attitudes changed, he got made fun of at home for proudly wearing his Army hat.

The grandpa visits the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C., and he’s touched when the young son of a fallen soldier asks if he can take a photo with him and wear his Army hat. The grandpa tells the boy to keep the hat, saying, “For your daddy who gave everything the least that I can do, is pass on this old worn out Army hat.”

“8th Of November” By Big & Rich

Big & Rich’s Big Kenny and John Rich co-wrote their 2006 single “8th of November.” The track opens with an introduction from Kris Kristofferson, who tells a story about a man named Niles Harris

Harris served as a soldier in the 173rd Airborne Brigade during Operation Hump in South Vietnam on November 8, 1965. He shares a special connection with Big & Rich since he’s “the guy that gave Big Kenny his top hat.

Harris was among the wounded who was saved by Army medic Lawrence Joel. Joel was the first living African American to receive the Medal of Honor since the Spanish-American War.

The song itself was just as powerful as Kristofferson’s introduction. It was nominated for the CMA Award for Song of the Year, and its music video received nominations from the CMA, ACM, and Grammys.

“Travelin’ Soldier” By The Chicks

Bruce Robison wrote and originally recorded “Travelin’ Soldier.” He released his first recording in 1996, followed by a rewritten version in 1999.

The song tells the story of a young girl who falls in love with a soldier. They write letters to each other while he’s away, fighting in the Vietnam War.

In his last letter, the soldier mentions how things have been “gettin’ kinda rough.” Then, the girl attends a high school football game and breaks down when she hears her beloved soldier’s name announced over the loudspeaker as one of the “local Vietnam dead.”

The Chicks covered “Travelin’ Soldier” for their 2002 album, Home. Their version reached the #1 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.

“Still In Saigon” By The Charlie Daniels Band

Dan Daley wrote the song “Still in Saigon,” which the Charlie Daniels Band released in 1982.

The song is set ten years after the narrator served in the Vietnam War. He served for 13 months and 15 days, and was deeply affected by what he saw and experienced.

Things don’t get better after the man returns home. He finds himself struggling with his mental health, and those struggles continue years later.

The heartbreaking song highlighted the challenges servicemembers face even after their service ends. It resonated with listeners and reached the 22nd spot on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.

“Still A Soldier” By Trace Adkins

This list opened with a song by Adkins, and now it closes with another one.

Adkins released “Still a Soldier” on his 2017 album Something’s Going On. Wade Kirby and Phil O’Donnell wrote the song.

In “Still a Soldier,” Adkins recognizes how someone who served in the military never stops being a “soldier,” even after they come home.

Adkins further recognized the military by featuring a real-life veteran, Bryan Gerwitz, in the official music video for “Still a Soldier.”

We join the country artists behind these powerful songs in saluting all who serve or have served in the military. Thank you.