Today, May 31st, is Memorial Day.
We honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the US military ever year on the last Monday in May.
The day, originally called Decoration Day, started after the US Civil War…but would have to wait 100 years to become an official federal holiday in 1971.
Country music has a long and rich tradition on honoring our country, and today’s hit makers reflect of what the day means to them.
“I think it’s just a time that we should take and take a moment to remember all of the American heroes. I mean, I think it’s something that we will all definitely keep in our minds.”
“Growing up, I spent a majority of my Memorial Day weekends in Kentucky surrounded by my family. As I got older, I realized just how many family members I had that served in the military and friends who have spouses overseas. To me, this weekend and Memorial Day itself, is all about commemorating their selfless sacrifices. What they do for us, is just an unbelievable example of love.”
(photo courtesy of Rodney Atkins)
“I can’t not go through a Memorial Day without thinking about the men and women and what they’re willing to sacrifice. And then you think about the ones that have actually had to make that sacrifice. I think Memorial Day is probably the most important national holiday that we can experience, I think, as a country.”
(photo courtesy of Walker County)
“Every year our Grandma Jill would take us to the New Castle Memorial Day Parade! We would dress in our red, white, and blue outfits, bring flags, and line our lawn chairs up right in front of the court house! Such a wonderful memory to look back on, and also remember all of the men and women who served!”
(photo courtesy of Riley Green)
“Me never having served in the Armed Forces, I’ve had several buddies that did and that was one thing I can remember when I got out of high school was some of those guys that I went to school with, saw every day, and all the sudden they’re gone for years at a time, and that’s something that was really tough for me to even imagine. That’s one part I can’t imagine, you know, and it’s something that I don’t know how anybody couldn’t have a huge appreciation for people in the military, not only just being away from your family, but the stuff they have to go through over there. I’m really proud to be able to write songs, and especially those e-mails and messages and stuff I get from troops who are saying my song helped remind them of home, you know. So, it’s a really cool thing to be able to write music that touches people, and especially somebody that are out there workin’ for our freedom.”
“Growing up as a kid, before I really understood what Memorial Day meant, it was just a holiday where we got to be on the boat all weekend and wear our country’s colors. As an adult, with a true understanding of its meaning, one of my most special Memorial Day memories was getting to perform for the National World War I Museum’s ceremony to remember our lost soldiers. Spending time at the museum on that day, and with families who’ve lost so much, really puts it into perspective of how much they’ve sacrificed for us to live in this beautiful country.”
(photo courtesy of Jordan Davis)
“Both my grandparents were in the service; my cousin was also a Marine, so the military hits close to home. We live in the best country in the world, and it’s because of those guys. I can’t thank ’em enough. I wish we had Memorial Day every day.”
Hillary from Lady A
“I feel like Memorial Day is a day that we should remember every day. And not to sound like a bumper sticker when I say that, but truly, so much of how we move through every day of our life in this country is because of the sacrifice of those men and women who have served.”
(photo credit: Riker Brothers)
“I think the ability to put your life on the line, at any capacity, for people that you don’t know is the definition of a hero. It’s a gut check thing when you see it going on because nobody is immune to asking themselves the question, ‘Would I be willing to do that?’. We all do that, whether we want to admit what the answer is, is a different thing. But it turns this microscope back in on yourself and you have to go, wow, how special of a person to be willing to take that risk for me. I don’t know if I would return the favor. And so, with that holiday coming up, we need to remember soldiers and people that have gone to war to protect our country and sacrificed of themselves to protect our lives here.”
(photo credit: Ford Fairchild)
Natalie Stovall from Runaway June
“My father is a retired army colonel, so I’ve been very close to the military my whole life. And a lot of my career has been doing shows around the world for the military. And so, when you are up close with the people that put themselves in the position to have to make the ultimate sacrifice, it’s really quick that you all of a sudden realize how important that is.”
(photo courtesy of Brantley Gilbert)
“I went through a phase where I was really weird about celebratin’ Memorial Day, just because I felt weird if I just went and got on a boat somewhere and just partied. I always felt like I was bein’ disrespectful. But I had a conversation with a buddy of mine, Tig. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie 13 Hours. That’s about the Benghazi thing. He was actually involved in that 13 hour fire fight. He’s just an incredible dude, but he’s been an awesome guy that I can call and be like, ‘Hey man, what’s okay and what’s not?’ I called him, and I was like, ‘Man, just out of curiosity what is the sentiment for Memorial Day? What is that supposed to be for a civilian? Cause I remember, I was at the lake and I’d been talkin’ to folks all day, kinda seein’ what everybody else was up to, and everybody was partyin’. And I just honestly got curious, so I called him, and he’s like, ‘We want people to have a good time. I can’t speak for everybody, but speaking for me, that’s what we fought for. A lot of what we fought for was so people have the freedom to celebrate. And we celebrate the memories of the guys and girls we fought with.’ And he said, ‘We don’t look down on that at all but it is important just to take a moment of silence and make sure you take the time to be reverent for a minute and pay your respects.’ So I thought that was pretty cool.”
“Thank you so much for your service and you will never know how much it means to us that you give us freedom to do what we want to do.”