Toby Keith’s ‘American Soldier’: Story Behind the Patriotic Song Honoring Veterans

by Matthew Wilson
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Toby Keith captures the brotherhood and camaraderie between military members in his 2003 song “American Soldier.” Keith recorded the song to honor America’s troops. Here is the touching story behind the iconic single.

“American Soldier” wasn’t the first patriotic song that Keith wrote. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he wrote “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” to memorialize the tragedy and honor the country’s military. His father, who was an Army veteran, inspired the song.

“So I thought about my dad, being the veteran he was and the flag-flying patriot he was,” Keith told CMT. “He did lose his right eye. He did come home, and he never did gripe about it. So that’s the reason I wrote the song — for him.”

Toby Keith Felt Inspired By Military Members

After that song released, he began touring overseas and meeting with military members in 2003. He quickly realized the impact the more sentimental Alan Jackson song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” had with military members. Keith felt inspired to write a song that focused on the relationships troops had with each other on the battlefield.

“It’s written for all the times that I get to meet the troops on these USO tours,” Keith told CNN’s Larry King. “Since ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),’ the P.O.W.s and the families and stuff that have come and brought me back my old CD covers and stuff that they had and shown how much support they had, and this is my support for the American fighting men and women.”

Keith partnered with collaborator Chuck Cannon on the anthem. The song released on Keith’s album Shock N’Y’all in 2003 and stayed at the top of the country charts for a month. In July 2020, Keith released a remastered version of the song for Independence Day.

Keith said he believes in honoring and respecting military members. At his concerts, he said he always tries to meet with military members and veterans afterward.

“I can’t get to them all so I try to make them feel as important as I can from the stage,” Keith told The Boot. “We try to let 100 [fans] back. If there’s military, we always let them back because that’s all I can give them is my service. They gave service to me, and all I can give them back is any service that I have.”

Outsider.com