Despite the inevitable BBQs, lazy lake days, and family gatherings, Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember those who have died while serving in the United States armed forces. It’s a day of remembrance and gratitude. And who else is up to the task of setting the reverent scene than some singer/songwriters and musicians?
So, check out a few patriotic songs and songs to remember the fallen here. We’ve compiled some of our most beloved Memorial Day songs below, in no particular order.
1. “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” by Justin Moore
Here’s to the ones that didn’t make it back home, Moore sings on the 2018 track. The ones we ain’t seen in so long. Moore’s lyricism is hauntingly painful, but his chorus refuses to be despondent. “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” is an apt tribute to those who gave their lives for their country.
2. “Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus
This Cyrus song was the title track from Billy Ray Cyrus’ debut album in 1992. (The album also included his breakthrough track “Achy Breaky Heart.”) All Gave Some, Some Gave All, Cyrus sings. Some stood through for the red, white, and blue/ And some had to fall.
3. “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn
Not only does this country song sing of the American Dream, but “Only in America” was the second of three number one hits from the album Steers & Stripes. Its uptempo sound and storytelling are perfect reminders of the land our armed forces set out to protect.
4. “Something to be Proud Of” by Montgomery Gentry
Released in 2005, “Something to be Proud Of” was written by Jeffrey Steele and Chris Wallin. It’s a back and forth between a father and son as the elder reminds the younger to appreciate every victory.
5. “I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice
Lee Brice sings from the perspective of a man whose brother has died serving in the armed forces. It’s a heartbreaking but immediately catchy anthem. Brice sings: And mamma asked me this mornin’/ If I’d been by your grave/ But that flag of stone/ Ain’t where I feel you anyway/ I drive you truck.
6. “This Land Is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie
Two words: timeless classic. “This Land Is Your Land” is one of the most popular folk songs in the United States and rightfully so. The Guthrie-penned track has also been chosen by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Recording Registry.
“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith
Perhaps angrier than the other songs on this list (its alternate name is “The Angry American” after all), this Toby Keith song is galvanizing and energetic. More specifically, the song was inspired by the passing of Keith’s father and 9/11 but is undeniably patriotic.
Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images