The song "I Drive Your Truck" performed by Lee Brice won Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards in Nashville on Wednesday night.
The inspiration for it came from Paul Monti, of Raynham, Mass., although he didn't know it.
Monti lost his son, Jared, who was an Army sergeant and was killed in Afghanistan in 2006 while trying to save the life of another soldier.
To keep his son's memory close, Paul Monti drives his truck.
But how that all came to be, one has to think there was a little extra help from the cosmos.
Paul Monti was not surprised by his son's actions.
"He did what his soul told him he had to do, which was to run out, through volumes of enemy gunfire, and try to save someone because that was the right thing to do," he said.
As a way to push through the grief, Paul Monti went on a National Public Radio talk show in 2011 to bring attention to Gold Star families, those who lost a son or daughter in war. On the program, to cope with the loss, he said he drives his son's truck.
Not known to Monti at the time, country music writer Connie Harrington was listening to the program.
In an interview on "Inside Music Row" from C.J.M. Productions, she recalled, "He was petitioning to put flags on his son's grave, and he just said the he drove his son's truck to still feel close to him and described the truck. And luckily, I had some Post-It notes and was writing the details down as quickly as I could, and felt it would be a wonderful song idea."
Brice recorded the song, all while the writers searched for Paul Monti. Then Monti got a Facebook message and link to the video from the Gold Star mom of the soldier Monti's son tried to save.
"I wondered how could anybody, you know, write a song like that? Yeah, it was, it was like, wow, this is like Heaven-sent," Paul Monti said.
The writers finally tracked him down. Paul Monti was taken aback, at a loss for words at the time.
"So they searched for me for two years," he said.
In 2006, when Jared left the truck to go overseas, he left it as many men leave pickup trucks: some sneakers, a bottle of juice under the seat, coins in the ashtray.
Paul Monti drives it without having spiffed-up the interior, although the engine has since been replaced, and a new rear bumper is on the list of things to do.
surrounded by his aura and it's comfortable," he said. "It makes me cry
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