This year's Independence Day celebration had a mark of distinction from other years, with just about everyone in the nation exhausted from 2020's near-constant onslaught of unprecedented hurdles even just halfway into the year. Singer Brantley Gilbert addressed this movingly on a televised special July 4, performing an affecting rendition of his most recent single, "Hard Days."

Gilbert sang the song urging listeners to see another side of the darkness during the A Capitol Fourth broadcast on PBS. "If you never had hard days / If you never had a heart break / Never had more than you can take or carried the weight of light on your shoulders / Would you feel like you earned it? / Would you live with a purpose or ever known your own strength?" he asked.

The track, which Gilbert stated is "about hope and healing," took on an almost eerie poignancy as he dropped his usual bombastic rocking style and sang the song quietly and with restraint standing alone, with just his microphone in the shot. The broadcast chose to intersperse images of famous American civil and social moments into the performance, including 1936ś famous Migrant Mother, U.S. soldiers of all races serving duty, the Tribute of Light, and bruised and exhausted faces of frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The PBS Fourth of July special is the country's longest-running live televised broadcast; this year it also included performances from Lauren AlainaLuke CombsJimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, Pentatonix, the Temptations and CeCe Winans.

Actor John Stamos served as host for the show, which was filmed live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. In previous years, Reba McEntireDolly PartonFaith Hill and Kenny Rogers have also been performers on the special.

See Country Music's Unforgettable Military Moments