30 Memorial Day Songs to Celebrate America and Honor Our Heroes

·6 min read
Photo credit: Valentyn Semenov / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Valentyn Semenov / EyeEm - Getty Images

God Bless America! Memorial Day serves as a time to celebrate and reflect as we honor the brave Americans who fought for our freedom. The holiday sparks images of sizzling grilling recipes and easy no-bake desserts perfected in the backyard, and American flags, of course — it marks the beginning of summer. The following 30 Memorial Day songs will encourage you to thank others around you for the freedom we have as Americans and honor those that have departed.

“God Bless the U.S.A.,” Lee Greenwood — 1984

Is there any more iconic American anthem than this '80s classic? Plus, the endlessly catchy lyrics reference the holiday’s essential meaning: “And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”

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"Born in the U.S.A.," Bruce Springsteen — 1984

Somehow Bruce Springsteen’s enduring hit came out the exact same year: 1984. If you’ve always thought of it as a song with a purely patriotic theme … listen more closely to the lyrics about a Vietnam vet returning home, and you’ll see it’s more complex.

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"The Ones Who Didn't Make it Back Home," Justin Moore — 2019

This contemporary tune hits at the heart of Memorial Day. “Here's to the ones that didn't make it back home, the ones we ain't seen in so long, the hold up a beer ones, the wish they were here ones, the not forgotten but gone.”

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“America,” Simon and Garfunkel — 1968

This plaintive, poignant tune from the '60s shouts out various specific places around the country (including the New Jersey Turnpike) and really evokes the freedom to roam until you find your place here.

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"I Drive Your Truck," Lee Brice — 2012

This moving song is about a man who drives his brother’s truck to feel close to him after the soldier has died. The emotional lyrics reference dog tags hanging from the rear view mirror and a Go Army T-shirt still folded in the back.

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"I Will Remember You,” Sarah McLachlan — 1995

Sarah McLachlan’s mid-'90s smash endures because it’s easy to overlay our own specific circumstances onto the lyrics about remembering. And the message is just right for Memorial Day, which is all about remembering those lost.

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“Hero,” Mariah Carey — 1993

Her '90s track about heroes, survival and strength to carry on is spot on for Memorial Day.

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"If You're Reading This," Tim McGraw — 2007

This song honors soldiers who have died — and the families they left behind. The lyrics read like a letter a soldier writes to family members, knowing it will be sent and read only on the event of the their death.

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"Arlington," Trace Adkins — 2005

Trace Adkins sings this song from the point of view of a soldier who has died, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Its lyrics are based on the real story of marine corps corporal Patrick Nixon, who died two years before the song’s release.

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"Some Gave All," Billy Ray Cyrus — 1989

This song goes back to Billy Ray Cyrus’ debut album by the same name. It’s about honoring fallen soldiers: “All gave some, some gave all, some stood through for the red, white and blue, and some had to fall. And if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall … some gave all.”

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“Whenever You Remember,” Carrie Underwood — 2005

Carrie Underwood’s lyrics about remembering with fondness and strength feel just right for Memorial Day’s true intended purpose.

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"Color Me America," Dolly Parton — 2003

As she always manages to do with style and flair, Dolly Parton sums it up perfectly in this patriotic song: “I am red, white and blue. These are colors that ring true. To all I am and feel and love and do, I stand proud and brave and tall, I want justice for all — so color me America, red, white and blue.”

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"God Bless America," Kate Smith — 1991

Celebrate Memorial Day with Kate Smith's classic tune arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. Smith's soothing voice encouraged Americans and inspired patriotism.

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"You're a Grand Old Flag," TMC Broadway Stars — 2014

Give a moment of thanks to our bravest heroes with a wave of a flag as you promenade to this classic during the holiday weekend.

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"Think," Aretha Franklin — 1968

Listeners across America will sing along to The Queen of Soul's 1968 hit this Memorial Day. Honor our bravest and tribute the songstress with this catchy tune.

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"Star Spangled Banner," Jimi Hendrix — 1969

Allow yourself to travel back in time to the sixties to experience Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the classic live from Woodstock.

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"America the Beautiful," Lee Greenwood — 1992

This Memorial Day, you'll be singing along to Lee Greenwood's rousing rendition of the hit.

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"Firework," Katy Perry — 2010

Katy Perry's 2010 hit will encourage you to celebrate this Memorial Day weekend as you remember our departed heroes.

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"All-American Girl," Carrie Underwood — 2007

On Memorial Day, allow chanteuse Carrie Underwood to take you on a carnival ride with her catchy single.

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"This Land Is Your Land," Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings — 2005

Sing a long to this contemporary rendition of a classic American tune from Naturally.

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"I Hope You Dance," Lee Ann Womack — 2000

This Memorial Day weekend, I hope you dance and are encouraged by this inspirational hit.

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"Battle Hymn of the Republic," US Army Band and Soldiers' Chorus — 2009

Spending Memorial Day with your family and friends is a privilege as you are reminded of the meaning of this holiday.

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"Party in the U.S.A," Miley Cyrus — 2009

Memorial Day weekend is a time of remembrance and we need to celebrate in 2021! Allow this popular single to inspire you to celebrate this holiday.

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"Eternal Father," The United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus — 2011

This song from the will inspire you this Memorial Day as you honor our departed heroes.

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"Traditional: Amazing Grace," York Celebrations Choir & Charles Macdonald & John Warburton — 2003

Keep this sentimental tune close to you along with your loved ones this holiday.

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"Captain America March," Hollywood Movie Theme Orchestra — 2014

Celebrate with Captain America this holiday weekend and be inspired by these patriotic lyrics.

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"Smith: America (My Country 'Tis Of Thee)," The Eric Rogers Chorale and Orchestra — 2002

The classic song will have you singing along with your loved ones this Memorial Day.

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"When Johnny Comes Marching Home," The United States Coast Guard Band — 2014

The United States Coast Guard Band's patriotic flair will bring you to your feet this holiday weekend.

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"Phillips: The Marines' Hymn," The Band Of The Grenadier Guards & Rodney Bashford — 1997

This holiday hymn will inspire you on Memorial Day as you honor the meaning behind the holiday.

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"Anchors Aweigh (The U.S. Navy Song)," The President's Own The United States Marine Band — 2014

This U.S. Navy tune will serve as a reminder of this holiday weekend and encourage you to continue to celebrate with your loved ones this year.

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