Birthday: July 4, 1946
Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Ronald Lawrence Kovic
Born in: Ladysmith, Wisconsin, United States
Famous as: Anti-War Activist
Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males
father: Eli Kovic
mother: Patricia Kovic
U.S. State: Wisconsin
awards: 1990 · Born on the Fourth of July - Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay
1991 · Born on the Fourth of July - BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
1990 · Born on the Fourth of July - Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Ron Kovic is a veteran of the Vietnam War and anti-war activist. He is a former non-commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps. Ron was left paralyzed after he was severely injured in the Vietnam War. Post the war he was so touched by the consequences, sufferings and poor maintenance of the affected areas that he became an activist, protesting against it. His protests against wars were so strong that he was even jailed 11 times. He chronicled his painful journey in his autobiography, ‘Born on Fourth July’ which was made into a film by the ace Hollywood director, Oliver Stone. The film earned Kovic a Golden Globe for scriptwriting. Kovic is all against wars and continues to struggle for veterans' rights. He also opposed the Iraq and Afghan wars and has been continuously fighting for peace. Kovic also served as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention. He is an inspiration to the youth and is being seen as an idol by many war fighters and survivors.
Childhood & Early Life
Ron Kovic was born on July 4, 1946 at Ladysmith, Wisconsin. He was, however, brought-up in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. His father, Eli Kovic, worked as a clerk in a supermarket, while his mother, Patricia Kovic, was a homemaker. Both his parents served at World War II. Ron is the eldest among five siblings.
He graduated from a summer school and earned a general diploma. After returning home, he enrolled himself at Hofstra University.
During his high school, he was not a good student and did not excel in academics, but he was a good wrestler and athlete. He took up baseball during his college days and excelled in that as well. He even considered making it his profession but destiny had other plans for him.
His like took a turn when was inspired by a military recruiter’s speech to join the Marines. Kovic’s choice was further strengthened by values that were imbibed by him right from his childhood days as he was raised by a family with military background.
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In 1964, Kovic joined the US Marine Corps. His primary purpose for joining the Marines was to serve his country. Shortly after his joining, he landed-up in Vietnam to fight the War.
He was a member of the reconnaissance platoon that volunteered a long-range patrol. All the 18 members were elites of the Marine Corps. Kovic, along with his teammates, served at the H&S Co., 1st AmTrac Battalion and 3rd Marine Division.
During the war, his platoon was asked to attack and kill civilians in a village. They had received information that the villagers were armed, but after the encounter, Kovic found out that none of the killed citizens, had any arms.
On the battlefield, he accidentally shot a young corporal, but Kovic was shocked when his superiors refused to hear his confession. They referred the act as collateral damage.
Kovic was fighting near LOC of the Republic of Vietnam when an enemy bullet hit him in the left heel. A second bullet went through his spinal cord which left his lower body paralyzed forever. Due to his exemplary service and courage, he was awarded a Purple Hear, but instead of feeling proud, he was wrestling guilt and shame.
Upon his return to New York, Kovic did not receive a warm welcome as people were furious and enraged with the consequences of the Vietnam War.
According to him, all the war veterans should be treated with respect and honor, for they risk their lives to maintain peace in the country. This thought prompted him to become an activist.
Disturbed by the Vietnam War and the plight of the people there, Kovic was disillusioned and frustrated and started thinking of the ways to wipe this frustration out. He began spreading awareness about the Vietnam War at local high schools. Around this time, he worked hard and got increasingly associated with Vietnam Veterans of America. His antiwar activism was further evoked by the 1970 shootings at Kent State University.
Although he had participated in several rallies and demonstrations, but he caught people’s attention only after he spoke at the 1972 Republic National Convention. He condemned wars and regarded them as the worst possible method to solve problems. He expressed his anger on loss of valuable lives of young men and women.
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Kovic worked aggressively towards spreading the message of peace and supporting better treatment for veterans. In the process, he even spearheaded a few hunger strikes.
Kovic was inspired by the novel, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque, who was a veteran of World War I. He was then struck by the idea of writing down his own journey and the aftermath struggles of Vietnam War. Kovic completed the book in one month, three weeks and two days on a forty-two-dollar manual typewriter.
He published his autobiography, ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ in 1976. The book is a simple yet heart touching account of his ten year journey of being a bedridden war survivor.
As far as the title of the book is concerned, it is believed that Kovic is proud of being born on July 4, America’s Independence Day. In the book, he has chronicled the horrific battlefield days and the devastating effects of war. He confessed that he had numerous sleepless nights, haunted by all the people that he murdered in the name of war.
Kovic penned down the details of how he, along with his fellow platoon members, was exploited as Marine staff sergeants. He also spoke about an attack on a mistaken location that left a hut full of Vietnamese women and children dead. Kovic described it as the saddest moment of his life.
In 1989, the book was made into a film by Oliver Stone, in which Tom Cruise played Kovic.
Kovic and Stone went on to share a Golden Globe Award for best screenplay. The film won several other Golden Globe and Academy awards.
In 2003, Kovic led a protest against the Iraq War during the administration of George W. Bush. His recent efforts include a demand for an edifice for the homeless and injured veterans.
Kovic presently lives in an apartment in Redondo Beach and spends most of his time working on a sequel to ‘Born on the Fourth of July’. Kovic never married and is currently enjoying his life with his girlfriend. He also spends his time at the Long Beach veterans’ hospital, where he is helping volunteers to set up a peer program for wounded veterans.