From 2006-2021 a combined total of 18,571 soldiers lost their lives while serving in the line of duty. These statistics don’t even scratch the surface of all the challenges service men and women face should they make it home. Veterans often suffer from injury, PTSD, depression and more all at the expense of their people’s liberties.
It’s apparent that when Toby Keith sang “Freedom don’t come free” (from his hit patriotic anthem American Soldier) he wasn’t lying. The track was written and performed to honor those who gave their lives to keep us safe. And how fitting? Honoring those who protect our freedom through the most freeing medium we humans have discovered: song! American Soldier, no doubt, has a reserved spot on this list (we won’t spoil where), but it isn’t the only melody written with our nation’s heroes in mind. Read on to discover our top picks for the 21 Best Songs About Soldiers of All Time!
1. I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice
I Drive Your Truck was co-written by three songswriters and performed by Country music artist Lee Brice. One of the writers, Connie Harrington, was inspired to write the song after watching an interview where a father explained he drove his veteran son’s truck in honor of him when he didn’t make it back home from deployment. The narrator sings of driving his late brother’s truck stating that he feels closest to his brother while in the pick-up.
2. If You’re Reading This – Tim McGraw
McGraw takes the perspective of the soldier in this tear jerker, reading a letter from a service man to his family, sent from above. From the lyrics it’s easy to infer the soldier’s family was eagerly awaiting his return, however, they’re hope will unfortunately be in vain. Though he has passed on, the narrator tries to comfort his loved ones from the other side saying, “If you’re reading this, I’m already home.” The song continues on to describe all the ways he’ll watch over his family from afar.
3. Still a Soldier – Trace Adkins
This classic number provides insight into what the return home to normalcy is like in first person. It calls attention to the fact that no matter where life takes them, a soldier will always be a soldier.
4. God Bless The U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood
This tribute to the land from sea to shining sea doesn’t overlook the men and women who fight to keep us free with this line from the chorus, “I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.”
5. Letters From Home – John Michael Montgomery
This tune is likely to make a tear fall, telling a tale of bittersweet long distance communication between someone out to war and those still at home.
6. Soldier – Fleurie
This song describes the dedication and determination of our warriors. Spotlighting their strength as the soldier described must stay up till dawn not only fighting a war, but also their will to keep on.
7. American Soldier – Toby Keith
Toby Keith sang this anthem honoring our nation’s heroes calling attention to their selflessness and patriotism.
8. Hey Brother – Avicii
While this song doesn’t explicitly state it’s about a soldier and his brother, the music video shows a tale of two brothers who went to war – one returned and one went to his final resting place. Through the video we see the narrator reminiscing over his relationship with his brother during flash backs and we’re brought back to the present to piece together clues suggesting we’re now at a funeral honoring the fallen brother. The song is a testament to the love a soldier has for their siblings.
9. The Ones That Didn’t Make it Back Home – Justice Moore
Moore sings a tribute to the loved ones that never returned home highlighting the love of those who go on missing them each day.
10. Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
Not all love stories can have happy endings. This song tells the heart wrenching tale of two lovers torn apart by war.
11. See You Again – Carrie Underwood
Underwood sings of the longing for her lover to return. While the song can be interpreted a few different ways it is most often perceived as a war romance track shining light on the perspective of a woman waiting for her soldier to return.
12. Brothers – Dean Brody
Another tune about brothers effected by war, Brothers, describes a brother going off to war while the younger is left behind pleading for his brother to stay. The younger brother doesn’t realize, but his older brother’s intentions are to protect his homeland. Before leaving the older brother tells the younger, “This is what brothers are for.” Upon returning from war the younger brother finds his older sibling wheelchair bound. The eldest brother begins to apologize for needing to be wheeled around, but the younger repeats his brothers words back to him, “Hey this is what brothers are for.”
13. Just a Dream – Carrie Underwood
In another military romance ballad by Underwood, she sings of mourning a late husband who died during war and won’t be returning. Unlike ‘See You Again’, the woman in this number has to cope with the harsh reality that she’ll never get another chance to be with her lover.
14. Travelin’ Soldier – The Chicks
Travelin’ Soldier is sang from the perspective of a young woman who saw her love off to war and the ridicule she receives for being in love during her youth. Amidst all the backlash from her community suggesting their relationship will never work the woman holds on to hope that she will one day see her traveling soldier again.
15. Born in The USA – Bruce Springsteen
Released in 1984, this iconic number describes the patriotism of a veteran returning from war and his pride for his birthplace.
16. Made in America – Toby Keith
Keith sings a song of the joys of being from the heartland and standing for the Red, White and Blue.
17. These Colours Don’t Run – Iron Maiden
In this list of patriotic songs you might be surprised to find a heavy metal contender in the bunch. This upbeat Iron Maiden classic calls attention to the darker side of war as a whole emphasizing the fact that the effects of war don’t diminish despite our history of bloodshed. We continue to traverse foreign nations staking claim and soldiering on. While unsettling, if you pay little attention to the lyrics, you can really get down to this number.
18. Ragged Old Flag – Johnny Cash
Cash had a few songs that were spoken more than they were sang and Ragged Old Flag is no exception. While more of a poem, the music behind Cash’s word is upbeat and describes the pride a veteran has for his tattered flag as he sees it as a representation of what his flag and nation have endured together.
19. Battle of New Orleans – Johnny Horton
Released in 1959, this fun party song takes it back to 1814 and describes a soldiers journey down the Mississippi River. Horton puts a humorous spin on the battle of New Orleans describing a scenario where their canon melted down, so to improvise the soldiers grabbed an alligator and “powdered his behind” to shoot their ammunition toward the British.
20. Where I Come From – Montgomery Gentry
In this song, the band sings of a soldier’s pride for his home town as he reminisces on all the things that make it worth fighting for.
21. Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue – Toby Keith
Yet another Keith classic, this time a testament to the fire and fury that comes from the nation’s infantry. This iconic military anthem packs a punch for the other guys describing just how serious the U.S.A. is when it comes to retaliation to foreign attacks stating, “Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list and the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist”. The tempo combined with the powerful lyrics make this song an easy one to move to.
This last section wraps up the list of the 21 best songs about service men and women. Remembering those who served and honoring their legacy is the least we can do for their sacrifice. Although veterans may pass on from this life, the songs we sing and the memories we share will live on forever.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.