Memorial Day 2024: With Deep Gratitude, Sorrow, & Love: For Our Fallen Sons And Daughters, Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Husbands, Brothers & Sisters

Young man at The Wall, via C. Fremon, Jan. 2009
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

When it comes to the variety of thoughts and emotions that Memorial Day brings forth, often music can express what speeches and reported stories cannot.

Hence the list below

The first of the three songs we gathered for Memorial Day 2023 is Lee Brice’s indelible I Drive Your Truck.

Brice didn’t write I Drive Your Truck. But he made it unforgettable. It was written by the songwriting team of Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary, based on a story Harrington had heard on NPR about a man named Paul Monti, whose son, Jared Monti, had died in a battle in Afghanistan while saving a fellow soldier. When the father was asked if there was a particular way he would remember his son on Memorial Day, Monti said he would drive his truck.

I Drive Your Truck was deservedly honored  as Song of the Year during the 49th annual Academy of Country Music in 2014.

Justin Moore’s The Ones Who Didn’t Make It Back Home is another ballad that covers loss, while honoring those who serve. The lyrics tell the story of the moment a family finds out they’ve lost someone they believed was about to come home. Justin sings: “There was a knock on the door ’round two o’clock, two uniforms and her heart stopped, yellow ribbon ’round an oak tree, blowin’ in the breeze.” Moore wrote the composition with Paul DiGiovanni, Chase McGill, and Jeremy Stover.

The final entry on this year’s list is Bang the Drum Slowly, Emmylou Harris’s exquisite song written to honor her soldier dad, who did come home alive from war. The song is about all the things she wished she’d asked him before he died. Guy Clark, who also knew Emmylou’s dad, helped with the composition, and was in general a major creative cheerleader when Emmylou was writing.

The result is both heart-piercing and full of grace.

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