Country Singer Follows Family Tradition of Patriotic Support
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 29, 2006 Darryl Worley did not follow his family tradition of joining the military, but fate led him to another way to support his country -- by supporting those who followed the call to military service.
Country music singer Darryl Worley entertains the audience at the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tenn., May 27, during an All-American Salute Signature Show featuring tributes to America's men and women in uniform. Worley, who wrote his hit single "Have You Forgotten" after visiting U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan, frequently entertains the troops stateside and overseas. Photo by Chris Hollo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Worley wanted to become a military pilot, but at 6-foot-6 inches, he was too tall. Instead, he became a country music singer and wrote a song called "Have You Forgotten" that's been serving the military ever since.
Worley sang his song during a salute to the military at the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, Tenn., May 27. He wrote the song after a United Service Organizations trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East in December 2002.
"I grew up around the military and felt like I had a pretty good handle on what those folks do," Worley said during an interview backstage at the Opry. "But you don't really have a clue until you spend a little time in a war zone. When you see those girls and guys out there doing what they do, it really has an effect on you, and it also makes you want to give something back."
Seeing firsthand that America's troops "literally lay their life on the line every day," he said he vowed to do something big to make sure they aren't forgotten.
"It made me want to shout out, 'Hey, there's a huge nation of people here that love you and appreciate what you do for us every day," he said. "Not just the troops, but the paramedics and the firemen and the police officers and the state troopers, sheriffs and deputies -- all the people who watch over us."
People across the country related to his song and said, "That's how I feel. That's what I'm thinking," he recalled. Today, the song continues to serve as a reminder of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the need to protect the nation's freedoms. "I thank the military every time I have a chance for inspiring me to write the song because it really changed my life, and it changed my career," Worley said.
Worley continues to travel to military bases to entertain the troops. He's played in the Middle East, Korea and Japan. In fact, he said, he got into Nashville just in time to do a sound check for the Opry show after playing for troops the night before in Austin, Texas.
The troops appreciate the entertainers' who come out to play for them, he said, adding that it doesn't take a lot to let them know you're behind them.
"It's good if you and your church group get together and put together boxes to send to the soldiers," he said. "But they don't require that you do that. They just want to know that you understand their mission and that you're behind them, you pray for them, and you want them home safe."
"You don't have to do a whole lot," Worley said. "If you just say, 'I support you.'"
"But if you're out here toting a sign that's speaking against them when they're over there fighting for your freedoms," the towering country star warned, "then you better watch out, because I'm just like them, and I would want to kick your butt. That's how I feel about that."