Country Music’s 5 Most Patriotic Singers: Toby Keith, Charlie Daniels, Craig Morgan, and More

Country music and patriotism go together like apple pie and ice cream – you can have one without the other, but why would you want to?

The genre is packed with songs about God and country, but what about the hearts of the people who sing them? Are they true?

Here’s a look at five of country music’s most dedicated patriots and what makes them authentic.

Videos by American Songwriter

Toby Keith

No civilian entertainer may be as synonymous with battle songs as Toby Keith.

Keith died of stomach cancer on Feb. 5. But before he got sick, Keith sang for more than 250,000 troops in 17 countries over 20 years.

The Oklahoman built much of his career on patriotism, including his popular “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).” He released the song after 9/11.

The Washington Post reported that Keith never planned to record “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).” Keith only wanted to sing it at USO shows. However, Gen. James L. Jones, the Marine Corps commandant, changed Keith’s mind. He told him, “That’s the most amazing battle song I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Lyrics include: “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A., ’cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”

Keith’s patriotism wasn’t political. He played events for presidents Bush, Obama and Trump. He revealed he was a longtime Democrat before he became independent in 2008. Keith said he always supported the troops but not necessarily the wars they were sent to fight.

Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels was so dedicated to American military members that he founded The Journey Home Project to aid service men and women and their families with everything from healthcare to job placement.

Daniels, who died in 2020, was 5 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He grew up in the coastal town of Wilmington, N.C., a port city that shipped supplies across the ocean to the American troops fighting World War II.

Daniels was afraid Germans were going to invade his town and remembered how he felt when enemy U-boats sank cargo ships right off the North Carolina coast until he died. He heard people say they could see the boats burn from the beaches.

“We felt in danger,” he told The Tennessean, explaining the town was vigilant and members feared they’d have to join combat. “I learned there were two things that protect America — the grace of God and the United States military.”

Daniels wanted supporting veterans to be part of his legacy.

“The agencies that are tasked with helping our folks who come back from their service are all bureaucracies,” Daniels said. “They are slow by nature. A lot of veterans’ needs are immediate. If someone has PTSD, he can’t wait. They need help today.”

Chris Young

Before his death, Charlie Daniels’ Journey Home Project honored Chris Young with its top prize—the Patriot Award.

“What we try to do is pick people who have a heart for the military and the veterans and have proven it by doing something,” Daniels said.

When Daniels died, Young was ready to help fill the gap with veteran support. Young, whose sister was a Marine, regularly plays fundraisers for The Journey Home Project and has helped generate more than $1 million for the charity.

He also incorporates his patriotism into his music. Young released his song “The Dashboard” 15 years ago on his “Man I Want To Be” album. The song explores the fear of a sibling going to serve and not coming back.

Lyrics include: “He said, “If I don’t come back| You can have this Ford| Just tape a picture of me, on the Dashboard.”

Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan was in the army for nearly 20 years, reenlisted in the Army Reserves on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, released a collaborative album to commemorate his reenlistment and wrote a book, ‘God, Family, Country,’ that just went to paperback.

“For me, it’s about God and family and country,” he said. “I am so blessed, and I recognize the blessings of the freedoms we celebrate in this nation” (via BBR Music Group).

Morgan showcased his love for country and the survival skills he learned in the military on the reality show “Beyond the Edge.”

“(Serving in the military) for me is more natural than the country music singer thing,” he told Fox News Digital. “People often ask me how I transitioned from being in the United States Army for so long to the music industry, and I tell them I’ve been working on it. I’m still working on it.”
Morgan said it’s in his DNA.

“So, going back and doing those types of things was very natural for me,” he added. “It’s a part of who I am — wanting to help other people.”

Darryl Worley

Darryl Worley, also a Patriot Award winner, had recently returned from an unofficial tour to play for troops in Afghanistan in January of 2003. The singer could helicopter in daily to play for soldiers on the front lines. He described it as grueling and emotional. After he returned to Middle Tennessee, he and co-writer Wynn Varble wrote “Have You Forgotten?”
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The men penned the song as a thank-you to the nation’s first responders, and he debuted it on The Grand Ole Opry a few days later. It was met with thunderous applause on that Friday night, Grand Ole Opry President Pete Fisher invited Worley back Saturday night to sing it on the televised portion of the Opry.

“It exploded,” he told me (via The Tennessean) of “Have You Forgotten?” “I got choked up trying to get through it because these old men were standing up on the front row with their walkers trembling.”

Over the next 24 hours, the song went viral. There was so much public demand for song that by Monday morning, Worley’s personal website and that of his record label crashed due to traffic.

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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