Everyone loves Memorial Day weekend, but it's always important to remember the reason behind the late May holiday. While you're cranking up a little country music to fuel your barbecue or pool party, take a few minutes to consider some Nashville stars who have proudly served in the U.S. military.
Several country superstars enlisted quite early, signing up to get in uniform directly after finishing high school. Willie Nelson is one of these: He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950, where he served for nine months before being medically discharged due to back problems.
The "King of Country," George Strait, actually got off on a musical footing due to his service. He joined the army after eloping with his high school sweetheart, Norma; then learned to perform while playing with an army-sponsored band called "Rambling Country."
No less than the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, also earned some of his musical chops while serving. While stationed overseas in Germany, he worked as a Morse Code Intercept Operator for Russian transmissions...and still found time to start his first band, called the Landsberg Barbarians.
Getting more into the modern side of country, hitmaker Craig Morgan enlisted when he was 18 years old, and was on active duty in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions for 10 years. He stayed on active reserve while pondering whether to fully pursue a career in music.
It was Morgan's commanding officer who gave him the final push he needed to embark on the endeavor, telling him that while he could one day be an Army sergeant — he really had what it took to be a singer and shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. Yes sir! Morgan took that order, and the rest is history.
A stint in the military often instills valuable direction and focus for later career choices — even for future musicians. Jamey Johnson is one of these: He traded college for the U.S. Marines Corps, where he spent two years as a mortar man. He says it not only gave him the guidance and discipline needed to be a professional musician, but he met some lifelong friends who helped him in his career, like a fellow Marine who later became one of his road managers.
Ram Country wishes you a happy Memorial Day, and extends thanks to all who have served our country, both past and present.