After Paul Monti lost his 30-year-old son Jared in Afghanistan in 2006, he did what he says he's since learned a number of parents of fallen soldiers do: He began driving his son's truck. As Monti explained in a radio interview several years later, "What can I tell you? It's him. It's got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don't need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of every day." It's a statement that Nashville songwriter Connie Harrington found particularly moving—so much so, that within days of catching it on the radio she had written the song "I Drive Your Truck," which, after being recorded by Lee Brice, hit No. 1 on Billboard's Country Airplay chart last month.
But, amazingly, Monti and Harrington had yet to connect, reports NPR. Though Harrington wanted to get in touch with the father who to this day moves her to tears (she breaks down several times in the NPR interview), she couldn't recall his name. For his part, Monti had been alerted to the song by a woman whose son died alongside Jared but didn't realize it was born from his story. Harrington was eventually able to track him down, and the two finally met this week in Nashville. Monti still can't bear to listen to the whole song: "I can get just so far and I just have to shut it off." Says Harrington, "I totally understand. I still can't talk about it without crying," as she chokes up. And then there's this: NPR reports on one part of Jared Monti's story the song leaves out. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor; more on that here, and a link to the audio of their interview here. (Read more Jared Monti stories.)