George Jones: How The Possum Paid Tribute to Fallen Soldiers with ‘50,000 Names Carved in the Wall’

by Emily Morgan

George Jones was a man characterized by his voice, his performances, and his unrivaled songwriting. However, he was also a man who honored our bravest. Before passing away, Jones made sure to honor those who gave their lives for us. George Jones paid tribute to American soldiers of the Vietnam war in his classic country song “50,000 Names Carved in a Wall.” 

The song, which references the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., is a direct reverence for those who gave it all on the battlefield. The memorial’s wall spans two acres and has the names of the fallen permanently etched onto it to memorialize U.S. service members of the Armed Forces who fought and died in the Vietnam War.

The wall is hauntingly powerful. It’s currently made up of two identical walls that stretch 246 feet and 9 inches and contains more than 58,000 names of those who gave it all. The list of names is in chronological order based on the date of death. Here, you can find the names of soldiers who were killed or missing in action. 

In addition, the memorial has three separate parts: The Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

“There’s combat boots that he used to wear 
When he was sent over there
There’s purple hearts and packs of gum
Fatherless daughters and fatherless sons
And there’s 50,000 names carved in a wall”

George Jones’ Carves Out Time to Honor the Fallen

Before he played stadiums and the Grand Ole’ Opry, the Possum served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was discharged in 1953. When Jones was 70-years-old, he recorded “50,000 Names Carved in a Wall” for his 2001 studio album The Rock: Stone Cold Country. In 1996, country music singer and songwriter Jamie O’Hara originally wrote the song for his album, Rise Above It. 

Even though George Jones was more than able to retire at the time, he knew that taking a moment to pay his respects to the veteran was critical. His song is an important piece of art, both in country music and American history.  While it’s undoubtedly a heavy topic to sing about, everyone should give it a listen. 

Jones’ album, The Rock: Stone Cold Country, was his 57th studio album and released on September 11, 2001. The album’s lead-off single was” Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)”, a duet with Garth Brooks that he also featured on his 2001 album Scarecrow