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Late country icon’s daughter reveals his patriotic message

Toby Keith performs onstage at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, California, on Aug. 13, 2011. Keith died Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at age 62. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
May 15, 2024

Late country singer Toby Keith’s daughter honored her father’s legacy during last week’s speech at a commencement ceremony for the University of Oklahoma. The country icon’s daughter revealed that her father told her to “never apologize for being patriotic.”

Fox News reported that Krystal Keith’s remarks at the University of Oklahoma’s recent commencement ceremony come just months after the country icon’s death in February. Prior to his death, Toby Keith battled stomach cancer for almost two years.

“When he learned last fall that he was being inducted to Sooner Nation on this high of a level, he was so excited, and he was so proud,” Krystal Keith said as she accepted an honorary degree on behalf of her father.

“I actually made a joke about how many hours I spent here getting my bachelor’s degree, and he joked that he didn’t have to work that hard to get his,” she added. “But we all know he earned it and spent many more hours dedicating his life to earning it this way. He loved his family (he loved all of us), God, our country, and Sooner Nation.”

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Addressing her father’s commitment to patriotism, Krystal Keith said the famous country singer repeatedly encouraged his children not to be ashamed of being patriotic. “He always said, ‘Never apologize for being patriotic,’ and practiced what he preached through his work with the USO [United Service Organizations],” Krystal Keith said in her speech.

Pointing to Toby Keith’s 11 USO tours, she added, “He was going into the most dangerous zones, where guys that never got those entertainers to come to them, were housed and were sitting, and he would go and boost their morale. And that’s who he wanted to go see. We called him Captain America. And that’s something he earned.”

Krystal Keith also highlighted her father’s work ethic, explaining that in both his life and his career, Toby Keith worked to “be the best.” She said that while her father said other people might write, sing, or look better than him, they would “never outwork” him.

The country singer’s daughter described her father as an “icon” and a “larger-than-life legend” who used his career to inspire “nearly everyone in country music and beyond.”

“He had faith and believed in himself. He never gave up the fight, even when the odds were against him,” Krystal Keith told the graduates. “He would want me to tell you to never give up on yourself.”