Memorial Day is here again! Whether you're celebrating with a backyard barbecue, a trip to the nearest body of water or just chilling at home, an essential part of the day is the music. Celebrating the nation and remembering those who gave their lives in service over the years is at the heart of the holiday, but it means much more. It's the start of the summer, a farewell to winter, a moment to reflect on what is important and a chance to reconnect with family. And with the current climate, the latter is more important than ever.
Music has always been one way to achieve this and the years have delivered plenty of songs aimed at remembering those who have served and the nation they protected. This could come through a more general rock offering, a country classic or even a soulful standard. In the end, it's the song that tells a story.
Scroll through for a selection of the most patriotic songs popular music has to offer.
"It's America" - Rodney Atkins
Rodney Atkins' song is a celebration of all the nostalgia that makes America what is for many. The song conjures images of kids selling lemonade, high school proms and rock 'n roll. Classic Americana.
"LIving in America" - James Brown
James Brown was at the tail end of his career when he recorded this hit featured in Rocky 4, the most patriotic Sylvester Stallone film in history if you're a child of the 1980s. It captures a moment in the nation's history and the feel of being able to explore the expanse "coast to coast" and find out who you are.
"God Bless the USA" - Lee Greenwood
A staple at any patriotic celebration, Lee Greenwood's soaring anthem is a tribute to those who have lost their lives in war over the years and an ode to the United States itself. The song was originally released in 1984 at the height of the Reagan presidency, but became a staple after The Gulf War in the early 1990s and the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
"Philadelphia Freedom" - Elton John
You might not immediately think feminism and female empowerment when you hear "Philadelphia Freedom," but it is a major piece of the song's legacy. Elton John and Bernie Taupin concocted this song as a single and it has the spirit of patriotism all through it. But Billie Jean King and her impact on the nation in the 1970s is one of the main reasons the song exists. It isn't about tennis but it is about America and the idea of equality that King and many others fought for over the years.
"For You" - Keith Urban
"For You" is a single recorded for the soundtrack to the film Act of Valor, and all proceeds from the single were donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation.
"Born in the USA" - Bruce Springsteen
While some, including presidential candidates, have misunderstood or simplified the lyrics to this Bruce Springsteen hit since its release, it is not anti-American. The ability to protest or speak out is as American as baseball or apple pie, with "Born in the USA" showing that American isn't a perfect creation. The faults are plenty, but it's still moving and some strive to lead it on a proper path. Just don't be fooled in thinking it is all sunshine and happiness.
"If You're Reading This" - Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw's tear-jerking ballad tells the story of one soldier who didn't make it home from the battlefield. The song's lyrics serve as a letter written to those he left behind, including his final requests and goodbyes to loved ones. It's real, emotional and at the heart of what military service means to many.
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
The John Denver classic that gave West Virginia another feather in the state's cap is patriotic in that Woody Guthrie fashion. The song praises the beauty of the nation, the natural wonders we've grown around and how home is a special place, even if it isn't always in West Virginia.
"American Soldier" - Toby Keith
An outspoken supporter of the troops, Toby Keith has recorded countless patriotic songs over his career. While many know his post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of The Red White and Blue," this emotional track written from the perspective of a soldier is also firmly part of his legacy. It is also a fitting track for Memorial Day, leaving the boots on the ground.
"Route 66" - Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry captures the spirit of America's heyday with his tune about "Route 66." The rocker takes listeners on a trip across the iconic roadway, highlighting a period that is only a memory today but still firmly American. Jumping in the car, hitting the road and absorbing all the nation has to offer is something that just isn't the same anywhere else.
"Home" - Dierks Bentley
Dierks Bentley delivers an optimistic look at our country's journey with "Home," his ode to the United States and the people who live there. Bentley wrote the song after the Tucson, Arizona shootings that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords injured and in critical condition.
"This Land is Your Land" - Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie originally wrote this pillar of American folk music as a critical response to Iriving Berlin's "God Bless America." But today, "This Land is Your Land" might be just as famous and patriotic as the song it was referencing. It delivers everything folks believe about America in one song, even in its origins as a sarcastic response to Berlin's staple.
"Only in America" - Brooks & Dunn
Released by Brooks & Dunn shortly before 9/11, "Only in America" became a patriotic anthem for the country as it still reeled from the horrific terrorist attack. The song celebrates the freedom and opportunity to be found in the country, later becoming a commercial jingle.
"Some Gave All" - Billy Ray Cyrus
This track from Billy Ray Cyrus' debut album pays tribute to all fallen soldiers, reminding listeners to remember that they have their freedom due to the sacrifice of others.
"I Drive Your Truck" - Lee Brice1comments
The powerful song from Lee Brice was written after co-writer Connie Harrington heard an interview with Paul Monti, father of Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti, where the elder revealed he still drives his late son's truck to feel closer to him. Monti was awarded the distinction after dying attempting to rescue fellow soldiers three times while under heavy fire.
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