Remember when Merle Haggard and George Strait traded verses during this memorable salute to the troops YouTube

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, CBS aired an unforgettable two-hour special, which brought together a string of country stars, including legends George Strait and Merle Haggard.

RELATED: The country music community is in deep, deep mourning over the loss of Merle Haggard

Taking the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the two icons paired up to trade verses on the 1970 country-hit, “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” a patriotic Merle-penned tune about a fellow who stands up for his country.

Clad in a black fringed jacket, pair of dark sunglasses and hat atop his head, Merle whips out the first verse, while a smiling George – sporting a classic cowboy hat and jeans – owns the second.

Titled “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops,” that performance, which was one of a handful of others made to honor both the men and women serving in the U.S. military, was taped the day following Merle’s 77th birthday.

The day prior to that at the 2014 ACM Awards, George performed a different tribute. Along with Miranda Lambert, “The King of Country” sang “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” while Miranda channeled “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” as a way to honor Merle’s 50 years in country music. That evening he was given the Crystal Milestone Award.

In one of his final TV performances, Merle Haggard was joined by three country legends for a medley to remember

Then, on Aprl 6, 2016, fans were struck by a heartbreaking tragedy when the legendary outlaw died on his 79th birthday.

Nashville-based writer and Rare Country contributor Melinda Lorge has always been passionate about country music. Follow her @MelindaLorge and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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