Jerrod Niemann’s grandfathers both fought in World War II. He only had the opportunity to know one of his grandfathers; his father’s father—a Navy vet—passed away before he was born. His maternal grandfather never talked about his tour of duty. Looking back, the singer wishes he had the forethought to ask more questions. But as a young boy, he didn’t grasp the realities of war.
He’s always honored the military during his concerts. However, it wasn’t until he went on his first USO Tour in 2016 that he fully understood the significance of the sacrifice our men and women in uniform make every day.
“The USO Tour wasn’t anything that I expected,” the singer shares. “It was the best trip of my life, and I was just blown away by being a fly on the wall in these crazy places.”
As he was given opportunities to talk to soldiers throughout the trip, he expected to hear stories of wartime need, struggle and loss. But these weren’t the stories he witnessed at all.
“They show you pictures and videos of their babies opening presents on Christmas Day. One guy told me his wife said she was going to leave on Christmas Eve, and so he had eight months till he could get home to try to win her back. One guy goes, ‘Well, my mom died this month, and I didn’t go to her funeral,’” Niemann recalls. “It just really hit me hard. There’s these moments that you don’t expect over and over and over; and every different scenario. I’m just so thankful I got to hear that, because it really helps me understand.”
It wasn’t the reality of war that filled their stories, but the faces of their families back home. Real people torn between their duty to their country and their duty to their family. Real-life snapshots of moments missed.
These moments inspired Niemann to do what he does best: write a song. That’s when his new single, “Old Glory,” was born. It’s a song that’s neither political nor divisive. Instead, it’s a poignant ballad—written from the perspective of a soldier—that, in Niemann’s words, “brings everybody home for a few minutes.”
“This song mean so much to me,” he attests. “I’ve never been more inspired to write anything in my life.”
Now, when he’s singing “Old Glory” and honoring service men and women from stage, it’s not just another song in the set list; it’s a meaningful moment. He personally invites members of the military backstage at his shows. Following next week’s CMA Awards, he’ll head to Fort Campbell, where he’ll serve lunch and play music for the soldiers there.
“Old Glory” is just one small way he’s expressing his gratitude after seeing their hard-won sacrifice firsthand. “As you get older and you take more trips around the sun and you see things, like getting to go over there, you wish you could say, ‘Thank you,’” he reflects. “I never thanked my grandpa for his service, because I was just too young to really understand the weight of some of that stuff.”
Now that he’s heard the stories, he can’t get them out of his head or his heart. “Old Glory” is simply his hand-on-his-heart tribute to those serving and an honest attempt to redeem the moments missed.
“People should stand up for what they believe in,” Niemann insists, “and this is just something that I believe in.”