Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Song of liberty, pain, war and peace: "Born in the USA"

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band perform "Born in the USA" live in Paris during their two-year Born in the USA World Tour

"I wrote this song about the Vietnam war, tonight we sing it as a prayer for peace" 
- Bruce Springsteen speaking in Catalan live in Barcelona 2003

"Born in the USA" acoustic, from Spain

Born in the USA postscript
by Mike Marcellino

I wrote the following column on The Fourth of July 2012, and decided to explain point blank what the song "Born in the USA" is all about from the perspective of a combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

Today, I just discovered in his own words what the song means to Springsteen, at least now.
I agree with his dedication in Barcelona of "Born in the USA" as a prayer for peace.  Amen, Bruce.

People debate over whether Bruce Springsteen's song "Born in the USA" is unpatriotic.  Well, they then they either know nothing or are without understanding of the Vietnam War and the high price paid by 3 million American troops who served in country, the 58,282 who died, 303,644 wounded and the 1,672 still missing in action.  

When troops came home from the battlefields they weren't given any transition assistance, weren't asked a single meaningful question even in hospitals. Instead we were blamed for the war, called "baby killers," treated with disdain and even spit upon.  

Many who served had a rough life to begin with.  Many opposed the war.  Many stayed in college to avoid the draft (Bill Clinton), joined the National Guard (George Walker Bush), many got marred and had kids, some fled to Canada and elsewhere.  

I served a combat correspondent and photojournalist in the U.S. Army and traveled through much of South Vietnam and even Cambodia.  I couldn't be prouder of those I served with and looked out for me (since I carried cameras and notebooks instead of my M-14). They were the best!  They defined courage.  

So don't ever tell me that our song "Born in the USA" is unpatriotic.  

It doesn't make any difference if your like the song or not, or what your politics are.  Given our sacrifices in American longest war (10 years). I ask, how patriotic can you get?  

We are "brothers in arms."  And, that song by the British rock band Dire Straits is probably our most cherished anthem, along with "Fortunate Son" by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival and and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" recorded by British rock band The Animals.    

"Born in the USA" is a song about my brothers in arms.  

Mark Knopfler performing one of the best verions ever of “Brothers in Arms” during “Music for Montserrat,” live from Royal Albert Hall, London – 15 September 1997

Song of liberty, pain, war and peace:  Born in the USA
by Mike Marcellino

The 1984 album Born in the USA was #1 on the charts in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, except for France and Italy where it was #2 and Japan #6. Considering the language differences that's amazing.

I wrote this piece after finding debates on YouTube by people over whether "Born in the USA" is a patriotic song or not.

Listening to the bursts of fireworks outside my window, (always makes me a bit jumpy, as they sound much mortar, rocket or bombs) I think of the Fourth of July and I think of Bruce Springsteen's title song Born in the USA.

If you've struggled in your life trying to make ends meet, or served in the U. S. armed forces sticking your neck out or getting wounded you understand the song. If you're the family of a loved one who didn't come home you understand.  Now some folks may not like Born in the USA, the song, but they understand it.

Americans have courage and the determination to overcome.  We've proven that for more than 236 years.

The YouTube comments debate misses the point, entirely.  Patriotism is having opinions and standing behind them, even when they are different than the majority or oppose the government or its decisions.  That's liberty.  That's what our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and guardsmen have fought to create and preserve.

What real Americans agree on and believe in is making our country a better nation with liberty and justice for all.  Americans know their country makes mistakes, is terribly wrong at times, but they know we must overcome and endure.

Our troops don't make wars; not right ones or wrong ones; but our troops are the best in the world and have lost very few battles, including the Vietnam War.

Our elected officials, the president and Congress makes wars; but men and women in the armed forces answer our nation's call; if we hadn't many of us would not be here; or all of us might be here without our liberty.

From all over the world, people continue to seek refuge from oppression in the United States.  People from all over the world continue to immigrate to America, many wait and many try anything to get here and stay.

The reason is liberty, though our nation remains imperfect.

My comrades and I who served on the battlefields understand what Born in the USA means, whether we like the song or not.

Born in the USA
by Bruce Springsteen

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Until you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A. . . .

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man said, "Son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said, "Son, don't you understand"

I had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone

He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., I'm a long gone daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A., I'm a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A.

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