During Operation Desert Storm, there was an anthem that came to define the war: Lee Greenwood’s country song “God Bless the U.S.A.”

When Greenwood originally released the song in 1984, it was moderately successful. The song peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart July 28, 1984. However, the song took on a renewed life during Operation Desert Storm.

Greenwood played a one-hour special for the troops Feb. 3, 1991. That concert – from Walt Disney World – saluted the troops, and was broadcast to Navy ships at sea and military personnel in over 130 countries.

In an interview at the time, Greenwood said, “…we, here within the safety of our country’s shores, send this gift of entertainment to hopefully lighten the hearts and brighten the days for all of America’s sons and daughters, particularly those participating in Operating Desert Storm.”

A specific line in the song expressly calls out a thank you to those who served. In the chorus after Greenwood sings “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” he follows that with, “And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”

Greenwood said in an interview with The Boot, “I called my producer, and I said, ‘I have a need to do this.’ I’ve always wanted to write a song about America, and I said, ‘We just need to be more united.'”

Song lives on

Greenwood’s anthem lives on. Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the song again became a hit, uniting the country.

During 2020, Greenwood released a new version, working with the U.S. Air Force Band to inspire a new generation. Singers from the band in Washington, D.C., joined singers in Los Angeles, California, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Greenwood joined from his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Watch the video on YouTube

By Air Force Veteran Adam Stump is a member of VA's Digital Media Engagement team.

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Published on Jan. 20, 2021

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One Comment

  1. George Greavu Jr January 20, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    I was fortunate to briefly meet Gen. Powell while stationed in Sersink Iraq just behind Sadam and Uda’s summer castles. What an honor to serve my country and those good Kurdish people of southern Turkey, Northern Iraq and just west pf the Sirian botder. When aan in uniform of the rank amd stature pf Gen Powell puts his boots on the ground next to yours it gives an infusion of much needed morale boost to the troops that make you feel ypur not forgotten and you are much appreciated by the Brass. That was then I hope put boys have that level of consideration now as well.
    Thank you Gen. Powell,
    Sincerely Ret. Tsgt George Greavu Jr. 1ST COMBAT COMMUNICATIONS GROUP LINDSEY AS GERMANY 1987-1991

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