Miss America, by Wayne Dugger, is about the longing for home in every Veteran’s experience while serving in a foreign country.
This #OperationSong is about the story of Wayne Dugger, a former staff sergeant who served with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War and his life after military service.
“Miss America” is a patriotic song that Dugger and other Veterans wrote together to share their experiences of longing for home during their time overseas in Vietnam, Germany, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. They communicate what America means to them as soldiers, both individually and collectively, revealing an essence of America that they hope we can all relate to.
At the heart of “Miss America” is the homesickness in every Veteran’s heart while they serve in foreign countries and the aspects of home that Americans take for granted. Each verse tells how every branch of the military contributes to America’s freedom, and we learn through vivid descriptions of American life how much this country means to the five Veterans who contributed lyrics to the song.
Army Veteran Wayne Dugger’s experience in Vietnam helped him realize how much home meant. He enlisted in the Army in 1967, when the Vietnam War was just “warming up.” A year later, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, and later fought at A Shau Valley. His battalion fought on a mountain where they were told to expect light enemy forces. Instead, they were met with 700 force soldiers that killed many Americans. Dugger escaped wounded and stayed in an Army hospital while recovering.
After the war, Dugger and his brother went back home to Tennessee and found a huge family and community gathering where his father barbequed “a whole pig” and made caramel pies to celebrate his safe return home. “Miss America” represents that home and what he missed most while he was in Vietnam.
These experiences further helped create the lyrics in “Miss America” that described Dugger’s time in Vietnam, writing about “60,000” feet “and it’s a thrill to roll an F-18 at the edge of the atmosphere. But sometimes I’d wish I was rolling hay in my daddy’s old John Deere.”
Listening to “Miss America” is a reminder of the sacrifice that our Veterans have made and what our active duty men and women go through every day when they leave the safety of their homes to protect our country. The importance of home and the meaning it holds for every person is captured poetically in the last part of the chorus: “She’s the reason that I’m here, and this is where I need to be. But I sure do miss America, and I hope she’s missing me.”
You can view the song, here.
Thank you for your service, Wayne Dugger.
Operation Song is a non-profit based in Nashville, Tennessee that partners professional songwriters with veterans, active military, and their families to help them tell their stories through song. Since 2012, they have written over 600 songs with veterans of WWII to those currently serving. They hold weekly workshops in Middle Tennessee and sponsor events and group retreats throughout the U.S. Those who serve need no musical background, only the desire to tell their story. If you are interested in learning more about Operation Song or hearing more songs, please visit: http://www.operationsong.org/.
Writer: Hagen Kenny
Editors: Erica MacSweeney, Katherine Berman, Katie Wang
Fact Checker: Monique Quihuis
Graphic Designer: Roni Ruadap