Springsteen inspires with that human touch

Several months ago, I drove by myself for eight hours from Boston to New Jersey and back to see the opening night of Bruce Springsteen's current "The Rising" tour. I felt lucky to have gotten even one ticket to the popular show. I sat alone, surrounded by other fans, behind the stage at the top of the arena. I watched and listened as he played songs such as "Lonesome Day," "You're Missing," and "Countin' on a Miracle" from his new CD. Tears filled my eyes as he sang of the firemen, the victims, the widows, and the heroes missing a loved one who will never return after the tragic events of Sept. 11. The CD is Springsteen's response to grief, unthinkable terror, and loss.

Having covered the aftermath of the World Trade Towers' collapse as a photojournalist for this newspaper, I felt closer to the event and more overwhelmed than most Americans by the terrorist attacks, which left me bewildered and searching for answers. These haunting songs of hope and the healing power of love are a road back from fear and sorrow.

Over the years, each Springsteen concert has been a marathon celebration filled with songs that speak of life's challenges, but leave the audience filled with optimism and belief in the redemptive power of community. What a gift to communicate at this level. He asks us to look at our role as United States citizens and helps us believe that we can make a difference if we work together.

My photograph of his recent Boston performance (above) captures Bruce's energy and wonderful camaraderie with his E Street Band. Opening night, played close to ground zero, was appropriately somber and moving. The Boston concert, two months after the first, was a joyous release. Springsteen's grace and compassion are an example that inspires.

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