Born in the U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen, 1984

Who is singing this song? Returning Vietnam veteran. What does he do when he gets home? Looks for a job at the refinery. What happens? There are no jobs. Where does he go for help? The VA (Veterans Administration). How well did that work? How does he end up? "Nowhere to run, … nowhere to go."

What kinds of problems do all returning war veterans share? Getting jobs, readjustment to civilian life, lost friends, memories of battle.

What is the mood of this song? Hopeless, angry. What was different about the homecoming Vietnam veterans received? They were sometimes booed, called names. Why? Unpopular war.

How would you feel if you returned to the United States only to face ridicule? What was wrong with the logic of people who mistreated returning Vietnam vets? They shouldn't have blamed them for the war; soldiers just did their duty, just as their fathers did in World War II.

According to Bruce Springsteen, in verse 4, what was especially hard for returning Vietnam vets? "They're (Viet Cong) still there, he's all gone"; their sacrifice was for nothing. What might have made the difference between those who adjusted well and those who had "nowhere to run"? Goals, skills, caring family.

How has our appreciation for Vietnam veterans changed since this song was written? What has helped heal some of the wounds? Time, the Vietnam War Memorial. What was controversial about the memorial when it was built? What do people think about it now?

"Born in the U.S.A." performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band on Greatest Hits, New York: Columbia [CK 67060], © 1995. Available on iTunes and Spotify.

The official video for the song may be viewed via YouTube.

For more information on Bruce Springsteen, visit his official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online resource for lyrics:

Born in the USA album cover
Born in the USA album cover.

Bruce Springsteen was born in 1949 in a small town in New Jersey. Like most singer-songwriters of his generation, he began playing guitar while in high school. He moved to New York City after graduating but returned to New Jersey shortly thereafter. He performed with several small bands before joining the E-Street Band, a popular local bar act. Springsteen’s first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., was not commercially successful but did attract notice from some critics. It wasn’t until Springsteen began performing live that he gained national attention and broad popularity. His hard-driving rock style and lyrics, which recounted life growing up in a small town, made him especially popular.

This song, from his 1984 album of the same name, introduced a change in Springsteen’s style, which became less personal and more pop-oriented. The album was accompanied by a lengthy world tour that promoted his new image as a solidly American hero.

Interview a Vietnam veteran in your community about the war and his experiences coming home again.



Creative Commons License
Voices Across Time is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at