A disabled Vietnam veteran and activist, Kovic, who was portrayed by Tom Cruise in the 1989 film adaptation of his memoir, Born on the Fourth of July, met Springsteen in 1978. Springsteen had read Kovic's book, and the two become close. Kovic's account of his war experiences led Springsteen to stage a benefit concert in 1981 for the Vietnam Veterans of America. Springsteen has also dedicated songs in concert to Kovic, and his "Shut out the Light" and "Born in the U.S.A." were partly inspired by his friend. Kovic spoke in honor of Springsteen at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009.