A song about a black pickup truck earned a prestigious award at the 2013 Country Music Awards last week in Nashville.
That pickup wasn’t just any old truck; it belonged to Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, a 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier who was killed in June 2006 during a deployment to Afghanistan.
Five years later, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary and Jessi Alexander collaborated to write “I Drive Your Truck,” sung by Lee Brice, after one of the songwriters heard Jared Monti’s father, Paul Monti, speaking on the radio during Memorial Day weekend in 2011.
Monti talked about his son, who served as a team leader with 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He was killed while rescuing his Soldiers during an ambush.
Paul and Janet Monti were presented with their son’s Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest award for valor, on Sept. 17, 2009 at the White House.
Monti explained that even though it was painful, he still drove his son’s truck.
“What can I tell you, it’s just … it’s him,” he said during the interview. “It’s got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don’t need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of every day.”
The song reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, and it was named Song of the Year on Nov. 6 at the CMA awards.
Brice and the three songwriters walked on stage together to accept the award.
“It’s an unbelievable song,” Brice said during acceptance speech. “The first time I heard it, it blew my mind. It changed my life.”
Yeary explained the source of their inspiration to the audience.
“This song was written about a young man named Jared Monti,” he said. “Jared Monti gave his life in Afghanistan for his battalion; Jared gave his life for this country; and his dad today still drives his truck. We wrote this song about him.
“Thank you so much, Jared, for what you’ve done for this country,” Yeary added.
Steve Ghiringhelli contributed to this article.