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.