The best Veterans Day songs

Reflect on the meaning of the national holiday with this curated playlist of the best Veterans Day songs
Veteran's Day Songs
Photograph: Shutterstock
By John Marshall Katheder |
Advertising

Veterans Day is a holiday dedicated to honoring those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. But like 4th of July, Memorial Day and, to an extent, Labor Day, it’s also a time to reflect on what it means to be American. This list of the best Veterans Day songs touch on those themes of patriotism and sacrifice, reflecting the breadth of the American experience, past, present and future.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Veterans Day in NYC

Best Veterans Day songs

1
FEBBdays05Cash

“Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash

This spoken-word song, the title-track on Cash’s 47th album, is a heartfelt nod to the patriotism that persisted during the Watergate scandal.

2
John Cougar Mellencamp

“Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp

Mellencamp sings honestly about racial inequality in America, a patriotic gesture that asks America to live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.

Advertising
3
Neil Diamond

“America” by Neil Diamond

Diamond’s sweet crooning gets to the core of what America is at its best: a shiny refuge for the huddled masses that yearn to be free.

4
Simon and Garfunkel
Photograph: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“America” by Simon & Garfunkel

As this song describes, there’s nothing more American than searching for the county’s soul on the open road.

Advertising
5
Violent Femmes

“American Music” by Violent Femmes

If you like American music (baby), then you should bump this gentle acoustic ode to a quintessentially American dilemma: not having a date for prom.

6
Jimi Hendrix

“The Star Spangled Banner” by Jimi Hendrix

No musician since has injected such raw iconoclasm into the National Anthem.

Advertising
7
Red Foley

“Smoke on the Water” by Red Foley

In 1944, this folk classic foretold the fall of the Axis powers at the hands of “the great destroyer / made of fire, flesh, and steel.” (That’s us.)

8
The Muffs

“Kids in America” by The Muffs

This angst-laden number was featured in the film Clueless, and is sure to resonate with the sulky, sneering kids of America for a long time yet.

Advertising
9
Don McLean

“American Pie” by Don McLean

Despite many attempts at clarification, McLean refuses to explain what this song’s lyrics mean: You might say such explanation-seekers are driving their Chevys to the levy and finding it dry.

10
Merle Haggard

“The Fightin' Side of Me” by Merle Haggard

In 1969, this seething country song struck a chord with the nation’s good ol’ boys, providing a counterpoint to the idealism of the Summer of Love.

Show more

Listen to the best Veterans Day songs

Camera

Looking for a patriotic playlist?

Advertising