BOSTON (CBS) — Jared Monti, an army sergeant, was killed in combat in Afghanistan seven years ago but he’s still serving as an inspiration.

Lee Brice’s hit, inspired by Monti’s father, took song of the year at Wednesday night’s Country Music Association Awards.

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The songwriters say they were inspired by an interview given by Paul Monti after his son’s death in which he talked about how he keeps his son’s memory alive by driving around in Jared Monti’s truck.

The truck now has 135,000 miles on it and is rusted but it has a lifetime of memories for Paul.

“It’s about holding on to something you’ve lost,” Paul said.

Jared’s dog tags hang on the rearview mirror and old receipts are left in the glove compartment.

“He’s always with me but we’re private in there,” Paul said. “We close the windows and it’s just he and I and it’s nice.”

Paul shared his story with a radio reporter a few years ago.

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During that interview, a songwriter was listening.

“People have their ways of coping and I’ve got mine. I drive your truck,” the popular song says. “I find a field, I tear it up until all the pain’s a cloud of dust.”

Millions of people have since been moved by the lyrics and on Wednesday night, Lee Brice accepted the Country Music Award for best song.

“So many people, not just gold star parents, they hear the song. They think of their child. It keeps your child alive,” Brice said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

From the outside, it may look like a beat up truck but for Paul, it’s a memorial to an American hero.

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“I try to be careful with it because I know he’d yell at me if I dent it,” Paul said.

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