CONCORD, N.C. – Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem was almost lost to bad timing.
Greenwood was at Charlotte Motor Speedway to sing his anthem, "God Bless The USA" before the start of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night. He said that when the song was out its first year on the "You've Got A Good Love Comin'" album, its release missed a natural tie in with July 4 and the Independence Day celebrations.
"It wasn't necessarily on the shelf," Greenwood said.
Then, he did two music tours for the USO in 1985 and 1986 where the song was well received by concert goers. Greenwood said the White House got word of the song and wanted him to perform.
"That didn't hurt," Greenwood said.
The rest is part of history, he said.
Greenwood said he's honored that Americans have taken to his song to bolster their spirits during difficult times.
"Each time America reached out for a song that would represent their feelings about our country and each time it was 'God Bless The USA.'"
The song's popularity soared during the Gulf War in 1991 and after the September 11th attacks 10 years later. But it's just not the United States that loves Greenwood's signature song.
He said he had recently performed this week in Alberta, Canada and told the crowd that he wrote this for his home country but hoped they wouldn't mind if he sang it for them.
"They were like, 'Sing it! Sing it!,'" Greenwood said. "So that was pretty cool."
More than three decades after he wrote the song on his tour bus, Greenwood is honored and re-energized whenever he is asked to perform it.
"What makes it new are the people that are involved," Greenwood said. "The other people that are plugged into the events, the new people who come in are just as much in awe as I am as when they watch at home or hear it live." '
Greenwood's performance was part of the racetrack's salute to American servicemen and women, past and present, who've given the ultimate sacrifice to their country.
The drivers will participate in the "600 Miles of Remembrance" on Memorial Day weekend, which honors military service members and their families. Each driver's car will feature the name of a different fallen military member written across the front windshield.
Greenwood said he was blessed to be included in this heartfelt tribute.
"Every sport event in this country is doing something to honor" the military, Greenwood said. "But this is the mama-jama, this is the big one so when I get the chance to plug my little song into this and honor the troops standing on the track today, it's one of those fabulous moments."