RAYNHAM, Mass. - The Massachusetts father whose story was told in Country Music Association song of the year "I Drive Your Truck" says the song is a tribute to all parents who have lost a child.
Paul Monti of Raynham, Mass., spoke Thursday to Boston's WCVB-TV after the writers of Lee Brice's recording won the award the previous evening for the song. Writers Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary said they were inspired by Monti driving the pickup truck left behind by his fallen soldier son.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, 30, died trying to save a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2006. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony in 2009.
"The song is not about the truck. That's the vehicle. It's about holding on to something you have lost," Paul Monti said in an interview with the TV station.
"I think the most important thing about last night is how great it was for all the Gold Star parents in the country and other parents who have lost a child, because we all hold on to something," Monti said.
Monti still drives the 2001 Dodge Ram, with his son's dog tags and a rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror. The vehicle has 82nd Airborne stickers on the back. Monti says he's replaced the engine and keeps it in good repair, but the inside remains the way his son left it, still carrying his shoes, spare change and a toothbrush.
"My boy helped a lot of people when he was alive, but what he is doing now is absolutely amazing," Monti said.
Monti spoke about his son's truck in a 2011 interview with National Public Radio. He led a successful effort that year to get permission for U.S. flags to be placed on individual graves for Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances at the Bourne National Cemetery, where his son is buried in Massachusetts.