US President Barack Obama presents musician Bruce Springsteen with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, during a ceremony honoring 21 recipients, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 22, 2016.
It all started on “Highway 9.”
President Barack Obama cited Bruce Springsteen’s “anthems of America” in bestowing the Freehold native with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the White House.
The anthems rose out of Springsteen’s upbringing in Freehold, Obama said.
“He was sprung from a cage out on Highway 9,” Obama said. “A quiet kid from Jersey just trying to make sense of the temple of dreams and the mysteries down in his hometown: pool halls, bars, girls and cars, alters and assembly lines and for decades, Bruce Springsteen has brought us all along on a journey consumed with the bargains between ambition and injustice, pleasure and pain, the simple glories and the scattered heartbreak of everyday life in American.”
“To create one of his biggest hits, he once said, ‘I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on Earth -- the last one you’d ever need to hear. One glorious noise -- then the apocalypse.” Every restless kid in America was given a story: ‘Born to Run,’" Obama continued.
“He didn’t stop there. Once he told us about himself, he told us about everybody else: The steel worker in ‘Youngstown,’ the Vietnam vet in ‘Born in the U.S.A.,’ the sick and the marginalized on the “Streets of Philadelphia,’ the firefighter carrying the weight of a reeling but resilient nation on ‘The Rising,’ the young solider reckoning with ‘Devils & Dust’ in Iraq, the communities knocked down by recklessness and greed in ‘Wrecking Ball.’ All of us, with our faults and our failings, every color and class and creed, bound together by one defiant, restless train rolling toward ‘The Land of Hope and Dreams.’ These are all anthems of our America, the reality of who we are and the reverie of who we want to be.
“The hallmark of a rock ‘n’ roll band, Bruce Springsteen once said, is that the narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone could have told on your own. For decades, alongside the Big Man, Little Steven, a Jersey Girl named Patti, and all the men and women of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen has been carrying the rest of us on his journey, and asking us all, ‘What is the work for us to do in our short time here?’
“I am the President, he is the Boss. And pushing 70, he is still laying down four-hour live sets. If you have not been at them, he is working! Fire-breathing rock ‘n’ roll. So I thought twice about giving him a medal named for freedom, because we hope he remains, in his words, a ‘prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll’ for years to come.”
The audience broke out into a cheer of “Broooce” when Obama pinned the medal around Springsteen’s neck.