Top 30 Soldier Songs: #26 – “50,000 Names” by George Jones
As one of the most controversial wars in the history of both America and the world the Vietnam War has been a major reference throughout much of the common era of war-based songs and stories along side the current conflict in Iraq. To pay tribute to the soldiers that lost their live in the feud, America formed the Vietnam Memorial Wall containing 50,000+ names of those who lost their lives for the cause either on their own will or due to the draft.
This wall and the soldiers who have their names on it are the topics for one of George Jones’ more recent works dating from 2002. What makes this song so powerful and relevant as a soldier-based song is that George sings from the perspective of a person seeing the offerings and the gifts left in tribute for the men represented on the black banner of names after having lived through the era of the 60’s and 70’s that were littered by the conflict.
This first hand experience rings true throughout the song as George shows a more reflective image of families paying respect to their loved ones and those of others who gave their lives for a war that, in the end, yielded no rewards for its veterans or, as many could argue, for the country. What makes this song worthy of this list is it’s ability to resonate a more connected understanding of the time and the suffering from George as he views the Vietnam Memorial in the new millennium, over 30 years after the conflict concluded, and studies how even today’s these dead soldiers are the only really respected men of the war effort.