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Top 30 Soldier Songs: #18 – “8th Of November” by Big & Rich

November 27, 2008

No matter what feelings one may have towards this dynamic duo who have become one of the major figures in the branching of country music over the past couple years, this one song serves as the one unifying balled that draws respect and understanding towards these two boys as writers and artists. In 2006 they released the third track from their sophomore album, Comin’ To Your City, that served as a dedication to a Vietnam veteran who played a huge part in their personal lives.

The original album track was introduced by the great Kris Kristofferson, who addressed the back story to the whole song by introducing a man named Niles Harris. This was the man who gave Big Kenny his trademark top-hat and has served as a inspiration for both Big Kenny and John Rich in their individual and joint careers. The saw it appropriate to write a song about this man based off of his experience over in Vietnam that nearly caused him to lose his life.

The song follows Niles through his experience as a soldier from a young 19-year-old in Vietnam to a 58 year old at the time of the song looking back on his own experiences and injuries. The story explains that at 19 Harris became a member of the 173d Airborne Brigade which was soon ambushed by Viet Cong during an operation called Operation Hump. Niles was one of several soldiers saved by a man named Lawrence Joel, a black man who was later given the Medal of Honor, the first black man sense the Spanish-American War to receive this. In today’s world we find Niles still dawning his suit once a year to pay respect to his fallen comrades and, despite his permanent leg injury and mental scars, staying strong when he talks about that fateful day in the Vietnam jungle.

This song goes down in country music history as one of the most artistic war songs of the century. It takes the story of a single soldier and tels his story, a story that explains the bravery and dedication that a man can make for his country and the dangers that these willing participants endure every day. In addition it makes a great point of not only paying homage to Niles, but to soldiers like Lawrence who are willing to stay behind and ensure the safety and security of their comrades. This balled helped define the heart of a soldier for a new generation.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2008 4:59 am

    This and “Holy Water” will be remembered as Big & Rich’s best singles I think. This song was such a surprise for me, their second album was overall dissapointing but then a the end you get this song with a really strong lyrics and it was a song that stays with you for a long time afterwards.

  2. November 6, 2009 5:33 pm

    Our Fallen Will Not Be Forgotten! The 173d Airborne Brigade National Memorial Foundation will Dedicate the 173d Memorial at 1000 hours, Tuesday, 1 June 2010, at the National Infantry Foundation Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus, GA. The site is located close to the Main Gate to Fort Benning, GA. A Groundbreaking Ceremony was conducted on 11 July 2008, and Big & Rich were there to sing their song “8th of November”.

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