I first heard this song back in 1984-ish at a high school dance. Yes, not only was I alive in 1984 but I was old enough to be in high school (barely, but still). There was a live band and they played it. I had never heard it before and just assumed it was an original because every thing else they played was the usual top 40 and hard rock songs that I knew and loved. I loved the song and was sad that I was probably never going to hear it again.
Sometime within the next year or two, I was going to some 4-H function and riding in the car of another 4-H member. Her mom had the radio on a country station and out of the blue that song came on. I was so happy to hear it again, and now I knew that it was "out there" and I would probably be able to track it down someday, even though I still didn't know who sang it.
Then, a few years later I was driving in my car flipping channels on the radio and lo and behold, there it was. And this time I heard the DJ say it was Lee Greenwood. I soon went out and bought the cassette tape of it and could finally hear it whenever I wanted, and started a tradition of listening to it every 4th of July.
I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I wont forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me...
God Bless the USA