When Carrie Underwood wrote her hit ballad “See You Again,” she may not have necessarily had military families in mind, or the heart-wrenching day-to-day struggles they face when waiting for loved ones to return from battlegrounds in far-away lands. But, as she tells Time.com in an exclusive essay for Veterans Day, the song has taken on a life of its own.
“It often means something different to each person who hears it,” she writes about the track off her 2012 LP, Blown Away, written alongside Hillary Lindsey and David Hodges. “As soon as the album came out, I started hearing and reading the most amazing things. I would meet fans at shows or on the street, and they would tell me how long their spouses had been deployed. I guess, somehow, hearing that song helped them see the light at the end of the tunnel, and they could keep on smiling, knowing that their loved would soon be home.”
In the piece, Underwood tells the story of a family who bought tickets for one of the superstar’s upcoming shows — but the father, a solider, never made it home from deployment. “But because of their story and the many others like it that I have heard since, I’ll never sing that song the same way again,” she says.
Underwood will perform “See You Again” tonight at the Concert for Valor, a special event featuring Jessie J, Eminem, the Black Keys, Jennifer Hudson, the Zac Brown Band, Dave Grohl, John Oliver, Bryan Cranston and Jamie Foxx. The show takes places in Washington, D.C., and will air live on HBO at 7 p.m. EST. The broadcast, executive-produced by Tom Hanks, will be available to all viewers with or without a subscription to the cable network.
This is not Underwood’s first venture benefitting veterans and military families: as she writes in her editorial, “I’ve done everything from touring with the USO in Iraq and Kuwait, to playing shows at military bases in the U.S., to writing songs for special projects used to benefit our military members and their families. I’ve met countless brave souls that sacrifice their time and effort to keep us safe here at home. And I’ve met many spouses and children of those who don’t make it back home. Those are the stories that I could never and would never want to forget.”
Country music has a strong tradition of paying tribute to veterans of war and fallen soldiers, from Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This” to the Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier” to George Jones’ “50,000 Names.”