Darryl Worley Reflects on Emotional 9/11 Song ‘Have You Forgotten’ 18 Years Later

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The tragic events of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States inspired artists to create in memory of those lost and in honor of the country that was attacked. One of the artists who paid tribute to those who died and the soldiers who took up the American cause following the events of that day was Darryl Worley.

The now 56-year-old singer and songwriter did so with his song, “Have You Forgotten.” According to PEOPLE, Worley penned this song along with Wynn Varble, who is a co-writer and friend. The duo created it two years after the terrorist attacks took place.

The song was inspired by a trip Worley took to perform for American troops stationed in the Middle East and what he experienced when he returned to the States. It was also inspired by exchanges Worley and Varble had with people who seemed to forget the tragedy that was Sept. 11.

The title of the song reportedly came straight from an experience Varble had. The songwriter has recalled how he wanted to physically confront another individual over their perceived lack of compassion. He also wanted to shout at this individual the question: “Have you forgotten?”

As soon as those words came out of Varble’s mouth, a light went off in Darryl Worley’s mind.

“I just sat back in my chair with this big old smile on my face. He goes, ‘What?’ I said, ‘What you just said. You just said you wanted to shake that guy by his throat and ask him the question.’ He said, ‘Have you forgotten?’ I said, ‘That’s the question. That’s what we need to do,'” Worley said.

Darryl Worley Scored a No. 1 Hit with ‘Have You Forgotten’

Feeling so inspired it took the friends only 90 minutes to create “Have You Forgotten.” This made Darryl Worley believe that the song was something that was meant to be.

“I knew immediately that this was no accident. This song was ordained,” Worley also said.

The song made it to the top spot on the charts and stayed there for seven weeks. Now, 18 years later, the song is still remembered as an anthem for Americans who do not want the events of Sept. 11 – and more importantly, the lives lost that day – to be forgotten.

Once the song was finished, it only took Darryl Worley a matter of days to debut it to the public. He was slated to appear on the Grand Ole Opry’s salute to veterans. He decided that was the time to perform the song for the public for the first time, even though one of his managers disagreed with the decision.

“It’s three chords and the truth. It ain’t going to be rocket science. Even if we make a mistake, nobody will know because it’s never been played in public before,” Worley also said.

Unsurprisingly, the song was a hit. It’s a song Worley still takes pride in.

“The rest is history. We weren’t scared to say whatever we wanted to say. I look back on it, and I think that’s probably what wound up making it such a huge hit. We didn’t try to follow anybody’s formula. We said what we wanted to say and spoke our hearts,” he also said.