Ron is a true American, and his great heart and hard-won wisdom shine through these pages. It is a classic of antiwar literature and I hope it will be read by large numbers of young people, who will be both sobered and inspired by his story. It remains to Kovic to remind us that history matters, and that the cost of our high follies persists. This New York Times bestseller more than one million copies sold details the author's life story portrayed by Tom Cruise in the Oliver Stone film version --from a patriotic soldier in Vietnam, to his severe battlefield injury, to his role as the country's most outspoken anti-Vietnam War advocate, spreading his message from his wheelchair.
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He lugged it back to his apartment at Third and Pacific and began writing in a fever, index fingers stabbing the keys. In one month, three weeks and two days, the decorated Marine, paralyzed from the chest down in by a bullet that tore through his spine, was done with the first draft of a coffee-stained, single-spaced manuscript that would become a classic antiwar anthem.
Forty years have vanished since he wrote that draft, and it has been 25 years since the release of the Oscar-winning Oliver Stone movie that was based on the book, with Tom Cruise playing Kovic. And 10 years have gone by since I last visited Kovic. When I met with him, the death toll for American service members in Iraq had just reached 1,, and he had studied the names and faces of every one of them, telling me we had not learned the lessons of Vietnam.
Kovic, who lives in an apartment near the water in Redondo Beach, told me he had just read that more than 4, veterans are homeless in greater Los Angeles. Last week the VA secretary announced that waiting times for primary-care appointments had dropped from 51 days to 42 days as of October, after scandalous reports of veterans dying while waiting for help and government falsification of reports to cover the depth of the ineptitude.
But despite improvements, the remaining problems are as unforgivable to Kovic today as they were in , when the conditions at the Bronx VA hospital led to his awakening as both a peace activist and advocate for better healthcare.
And still doing so, reminding everyone that some wounds do not heal, preaching that violence begets violence, and that every conceivable alternative to war must be zealously pursued. I want to be productive, to contribute to society, to give back.
I want to do more than simply receive a monthly disability check. I want to be part of life and know that I was more than just a victim in that war. He said he has forgiven whoever shot him, made peace with the government that sent him to war and with the VA, too, if only because forgiveness was the only way forward. If every day is a gift, every day also involves struggle and compromise, and something still smolders in him as it did on the day he wrote these words 40 years ago:.
Kovic, who gets his healthcare at the Long Beach VA, told me a story about being asked to say a word to a hospitalized Iraq War vet there a few years ago. Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. Fifteen pages a day. California Opinion. Enter Email Address.
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Forty years after ‘Fourth of July,’ Ron Kovic still speaking up against war
Born on the Fourth of July is a American biographical war drama film based on the eponymous autobiography by Ron Kovic. The film depicts the life of Kovic Cruise over a year period, detailing his childhood, his military service and paralysis during the Vietnam War , and his transition to anti-war activism. Producer Martin Bregman acquired the film rights to the book in and hired Stone, also a Vietnam veteran , to co-write the screenplay with Kovic, who would be played by Al Pacino. When Stone optioned the book in , the film adaptation became mired in development hell after Pacino and Bregman left, which resulted in him and Kovic putting the film on hold. After the release of Platoon , the project was revived at Universal Pictures , with Stone attached to direct. Shot on locations in the Philippines , Texas and Inglewood, California , principal photography took place from October to December, lasting 65 days of filming. Upon release, Born on the Fourth of July was praised by critics for its story, Cruise's performance and Stone's direction.