Memorial Day is the single holiday during which Americans remember those who died in service to their country. There can be no greater fear experienced by the family of those deployed, especially in a time of war, than receiving confirmation that a loved one had died.

Tim McGraw, along with Brad and Brett Warren, the country duo known as The Warren Brothers, wrote “If You’re Reading This,” from the perspective of a soldier who did not make it home and is presented as a letter to his wife.

“If you’re reading this, my Momma’s sittin’ there,” McGraw sang when the song was introduced at the 2007 Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards.” Looks like I only got a one-way ticket over here
Sure wish I could give you one more kiss, and war was just a game we played when we were kids.”

The soldier tells his wife that if she is reading his letter “halfway around the world,” he will not be there to see his daughter born, but he hopes she looks like his wife and fights like he did to “stand up for the innocent and weak.”

The song had been written only three weeks before the ACM awards and had not yet been studio-recorded. However, radio stations began playing the recording of the telecast, and it debuted on the Billboard Hot Country songs charts at No. 35. In less than six months the song peaked at No. 3, giving McGraw his forty-second Top 10 country hit.

The profound grief the soldier’s family feels from his sudden loss is understood by the soldier, who tries to offer comfort by asking his wife to pass along messages to his parents.

“Tell dad I don’t regret that I followed in his shoes,” the soldier writes.

He says he is laying down his gun and hanging up his boots and that he is already with God watching over them.

During the ACM performance of “If You’re Reading This,” 100 relatives of fallen soldiers joined him onstage under a banner proclaiming “Families of Fallen Heroes.” When the song was finished, the audience rose to their feet for a prolonged ovation.

“So lay me down in that open field out on the edge of town and know my soul is where my Momma always prayed that it would go, and if you’re reading this, I’m already home,” he says.

The soldier acknowledges his understanding that his wife will move on with her life and find love again.

“That’s ok,” he says. “Just remember this I’m in a better place where soldiers live in peace and angels sing ‘Amazing Grace.’”

by Claudia Johnson, Country Reunion Magazine