Bruce Springsteen??™s ???Born in The U.S.A.???
When Springsteen sat down to write his hit ???Born in The U.S.A., he had a whole different set of ideas for the song than Reagan did when he used it as his campaign song. The song begins by telling the story of a man who was ???born down in a dead man town??? (Line 1), and goes on to fight in the Vietnam War. This song reflects on a time period when the United States was in the thick of Vietnam, and hundreds of thousands of young man were going oversees to fight. There are some very obvious implications of an anti-war theme throughout the song, which just tops off the irony behind Reagan??™s campaign song. ???Born in The U.S.A.??? by Bruce Springsteen is an anti-war statement because he uses birth, life, and death to illustrate the negative morality behind war and how negatively it impacts society.
He opens the song with a description of his hometown that he grew up in. He does not speak well of it, saying things like ???The first kick I took was when I hit the ground/You end up like a dog that??™s been beat too much??? (Line 2-3). These lines imply that he had an unhappy childhood that was possibly impoverished. This could have possibly led to the reason he was sent to war. The next verse goes ???Got in a little hometown jam/So they put a rifle in my hand/Sent me off to a foreign land??? (Line 7-9). In the 60??™s, if you were tried and found guilty for certain crimes, you had to option to go to war rather than serve time in prison. This is true for other time periods, however the song is based in the 60??™s/ Springsteen relates events from his childhood directly to the reason he went to war, offering the idea that he may not be too fond of it.
Springsteen refers to the Vietnamese as the ???yellow man??? in line 10. As far as anyone knows, Springsteen was no racist. This leads us to believe that he was using it in a sarcastic manner. He is simply recalling the fact that many Americans at the time were racist towards some Vietnamese, if not all Vietnamese. Because these opinions were based on the war, he says that the war was a direct cause in an increase in racism across the nation.
The main character of the song returns from war, looking for work so that he can go on to live a normal life. At the time though, there was a huge increase in population due to the baby boomer generation, and not to mention all the men coming home from war. Springsteen states ???Come back home to the refinery/Hiring man said son if it was up to me??? (Line 12-13). With everyone coming home from war, there was no work for someone with no college education. After this, Springsteen criticizes the Veterans Administration; saying ???Went down to seem my V.A. man/He said son, you don??™t understand??? (Line 14-15). He obviously is not impressed with the way that the V.A. handled the increase in veterans who needed help, which is a direct effect of the war.
There are many references to death within the song. He sings of his brother in the fourth verse: ???I had a brother at Khe Sahn/Fighting off the Viet Cong/They??™re still there, he??™s all gone??? (Line 16-18). Obviously most men would not be thrilled about their brother dying in a war. He also speaks of his brother and his brother??™s lover in the fifth verse, saying ???He had a woman he loved in Saigon/I got a picture of him in her arms now??? (Line 19-20). Perhaps the pair of lovers died together. Whatever he means by that exactly, it shows that war can affect many different people, even if they may not be involved. Death is a significant concept in Springsteen??™s song. Because death is the major concept of war, this seems to be where he makes his stronger argument.
Springsteen??™s ???Born in The U.S.A. was written to show some of the American people how wrong the Vietnam war, and war in general, really was. This song is an anti-war statement because he uses birth, life, and death to illustrate the moral negativity that is behind war.