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Lee Brice’s "I Drive Your Truck" based on father of Fort Drum hero

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Lee Brice’s "I Drive Your Truck" based on father of Fort Drum hero
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A songwriter in Nashville hears an interview on National Public Radio. It's a man talking about his son, who was killed in Afghanistan. The writer's lyrics become the most played song in country music today. That father knew the song well, but didn't know it was about him. As our Brian Dwyer explains, that man is the father of Fort Drum soldier and Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- It was Memorial Day two years ago. Nashville songwriter Connie Harrington was listening to NPR.

She hears Paul Monti, the father of Fort Drum Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti, who was killed in Afghanistan back in 2006 trying to save a battle buddy after an attack, talking about Jared's memory and how Paul still drives Jared's truck to feel close to him.

"He started naming off, you know, the stuff that was in the truck. It just struck me and really got me. I'm driving down the road crying," Harrington said.

So, teaming up with two other writers, Jessi Alexander and Jimmy Yeary, the trio wrote Lee Brice's hit song, “I Drive Your Truck.”

"There's a common acknowledgement of loss," Harrington said about the song. "To some people it's a sweater, a locket or a piece of jewelry or a toy."

Two years later, the song's so popular; it reaches number one on the air play charts. The writers and Lee Brice were to gather in Nashville for a party, but there was only one thing missing.

"As the number one party approached, we started saying I can't believe we haven't found this person," Jessi Alexander remembers.

The problem was, Harrington couldn't remember Paul's name. It made the search almost impossible. But somehow, at the last minute, she did one more search and found that NPR interview online.

"It was the actual broadcast I'd heard," Harrington said. "A picture of Paul with the truck and Jared's picture and I just thought that's his truck. I knew it was him."

So two weeks ago, that party happened, with Paul Monti on stage.

"These people are just very down to earth, heartwarming people that really, really do care. Lee Brice, to top it off, is the same way," Paul Monti said.

The funny part about it, Monti had heard the song before, and knew it well. But it wasn't until Harrington got a hold of him, that he found it was about him.

"My real pride in this is how it has helped Gold Star families all across the country because that's what's really important," Monti said.

That's not all of it. Co-writer Jessi Alexander, wrote another song that holds a special place in Paul's heart -- 'The Climb' by Miley Cyrus.

"That was the song he played at Jared's memorial because it says, 'There's always going to be another mountain. You're always gonna want to make it move,’" Alexander said.

"That's what Jared was all about," Paul Monti added. Jared was all about always trying your hardest and never giving up. That's what 'The Climb' is all about."

Every Memorial Day, Paul Monti plants tens of thousands of flags at the gravesite where his son is buried in Massachusetts.

He also has started a scholarship fund in Jared's name.

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