Bruce Springsteen and the Veterans Day Shuffle

As you probably know this week marked the 96th observance of Veterans Day here in the United States. It was a day set aside by then President Wilson who said,

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

In more recent years “Armistice Day” was changed to Veterans Day, a day set aside to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans. This year HBO, Starbucks and Chase sponsored a concert on the National Mall to commemorate the occasion called The Concert for Valor. There were 10 acts scheduled to perform from various genres, including (the very american) Bruce Springsteen (incidentally, my husband’s all time favorite).

During his set, Bruce, accompanied by John Fogerty himself, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown sang the Fogerty classic, Fortunate Son, a well known Vietnam era song.  Do you hear that? It is the sound of all conservative hell breaking loose. Of course all the outraged conservatives took to the interwebz and the airwaves to begin accusing The Boss of being disrespectful, unpatriotic and downright anti-american. Which. Of course. Is nonsense. John Fogerty probably said it best when asked about the song choice.

“Years ago, an ultraconservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as ‘un-American,'” he continues. “That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam. As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times, I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve.”

Unamerican? You don’t say. Sounds familiar.

In case you are unfamiliar with the pro-soldier, anti-war hymn, here are the lyrics:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no military son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one

Shockingly, Bruce hardly caught any slack for singing Born in the USA which expresses essentially the same sentiment. In the words of Greil Marcus

Born in the U.S.A.” is about the refusal of the country to treat Vietnam veterans as something more than nonunion workers in an enterprise conducted off the books. It is about the debt the country owes to those who suffered the violation of the principles on which the country was founded, and by which it was justified itself ever since.” Given that the takehome message of the Concert for Valor was to not forget our veterans after they get back from combat — celebrity emcees spent much of their speeches pointing viewers to foundations aimed at employing and aiding vets here at home — “Born in the U.S.A.” is a perfect fit for the theme.

Now, this is where the fun actually begins ladies and gentlemen. These same ultraconservative government folks who are the first to decry songs like these decry them because they are the people the songs are about. Let’s have a little look see and find out the many times Republican lawmakers have stood squarely in opposition to the best interests of veterans. Some examples:

S.1982- Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. The $21 billion legislation was supposed to improve health, education and other benefits for veterans. Instead, it failed to get the 60 votes needed to stop a threatened filibuster. That same month, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that “close to 200,000 veterans are among the 2 million unemployed workers who’ve lost access to federal jobless benefits since Congress allowed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) to expire at the end of last year.

H.R. 466-Wounded Veteran Job Security Act: A bill that would have prevented employers from terminating veterans who were getting treatment for injuries suffered while fighting for our country.

H.R. 1168-Veterans Retraining Act: Would have helped veterans find jobs and provide training for them while they sought employment.  

H.R. 1171-Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization: Would have helped homeless vets get back on their feet by providing temporary training for employment and programs to help them get off the streets.

H.R. 1172: No fancy name, would have just put a section on the VA website of schools currently offering scholarships for veterans.

H.R. 1293-Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009: Would have helped those overcoming injuries sustained while fighting for our country improve their living conditions.

H.R. 1803-Veterans Business  Center Act: This would have set up centers veterans could have visited that would have helped them better plan our future employment and business opportunities.

H.R. 2352-Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act: A combination of other bills killed in Congress by Republicans—that was once again killed by Republicans in Congress. –

Honestly, I think Bruce hit the nail on the head with his song choice for Veterans Day. It seems to me that it is the Republicans who like to play the Veterans day shuffle. In the imortal words of the patriots Springsteen and Fogerty, “

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes.
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord.
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

4 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen and the Veterans Day Shuffle

  1. jack straw says:

    Fox News wants to hear songs about the good side of war–You know, THE KILLING AND MAIMING!!
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no Senator’s son
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no fortunate one, no

    Why is it the LOWER CLASS”S are always sent to war??

  2. scribblegurl says:

    It’s funny – and by funny, I mean it makes me want to slap them – that conservatives spend so much time decrying the government and “supporting the troops,” but they are the first people to scream foul and throw a tantrum when someone they consider liberal does the exact same thing (except ACTUALLY supports the troops).

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