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Chris Jordan  Asbury Park Press

It was one for the vets.

Bruce Springsteen made his return to the concert stage in front of an audience of United States veterans and their supporters. It went down Monday, Nov. 6 at the Stand Up for Heroes fundraiser for the Bob Woodruff Foundation at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall in Manhattan.

Springsteen joined John Mellencamp for the song “Wasted Days,” and then stayed around to perform four solo acoustic songs, and tell jokes, too.

“Nobody saw it coming,” said Jon Stewart after the surprise set.

Springsteen, in fine voice and form, didn't mention that the 20-plus minute performance was his first extended time on stage since he postponed E Street Band shows for the rest of the year in September as he recovers from peptic ulcer disease. His unannounced appearance spoke volumes of his support for the Woodruff Foundation, which began for him in 2007.

Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp perform onstage during the 17th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Benefit presented by Bob Woodruff Foundation and NY Comedy Festival at David Geffen Hall on November 06, 2023 in New York City.

He's appeared at every Stand Up for Heroes expect for one since then, and even previously auctioned off his mom's lasagna for the cause. Springsteen is not a vet, but he's been supporting veterans' causes for decades. His donation of the proceeds of a 1981 concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to the Vietnam Veterans of America was a pivotal moment in the way vets were viewed by American society.

The night was “the first step in ending the silence that has surrounded Vietnam (and was) the beginning of thanking all the people that have worked so hard for all these years all over the country” for Vietnam veterans causes, said VVA founding president Bobby Muller from the stage that night, according to the Vietnam Veterans of America website.

Walter Cichon, the lead singer of the Jersey Shore-based the Motifs, who was an inspiration for a teenage Springsteen, was killed in Vietnam, as was Bart Haynes of Freehold, the drummer for Springsteen’s first band, the Castiles. Springsteen wrote the song “The Wall” after visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and finding Cichon’s name there. He spoke of Cichon, Haynes and the Vietnam War each night in the hit “Springsteen on Broadway.”

“Having paid body and soul, our Vietnam veterans, our Iraq veterans, our Afghanistan veterans, have all earned the right many times over to claim their birthplace and shape their piece of home ground,” said Springsteen in the music play.

So it's fitting that Springsteen's significant performance at Stand Up for Heroes on Nov. 6 would be in service to our veterans. Springsteen and the E Street Band are scheduled to go back on the road on March 19, 2024, in Phoenix.

War and Treaty, Josh Groban and Rita Wilson also performed sets of music, and comedians Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Carr, Ronny Chieng, Shane Gillis and Stewart performed stand-ups. First Lady Jill Biden and Prince Harry appeared in taped addresses. Stand Up For Heroes is part of the New York Comedy Festival.

Bruce Springsteen attends the 17th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Benefit presented by Bob Woodruff Foundation and NY Comedy Festival at David Geffen Hall on Nov. 6, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Bob Woodruff Foundation)

Bob Woodruff is the ABC correspondent who was wounded in Iraq in 2006. He's featured in a new ABC special, “After the Blast: The Will to Survive,” which shows Woodruff and his team's journey back to Iraq at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10 on ABC. The Woodruff Foundation forges partnerships and unites leaders in government, the military, business and philanthropy in support of veterans, many of whom in the audience visibly bore the scars of their service.

Veterans Day is Saturday, Nov. 11.

“This is personal to me and to your president,” said Biden in her message. “That's why we have to make sure service is an opportunity of dignity and honor of time and accomplishment for the entire family. The well-being of military members and their families is a national security imperative.”

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The SPL Rocks!

Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03


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