Born on the Fourth of July is an autobiography, by Ron Kovic, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist, published in 1976. It was later turned into an Academy award-winning film by Oliver Stone in 1989 starring Tom Cruise, himself portraying Kovic. It relates the story of a young staunch American boy committed to his country. Through his youth, he was inspired by one of JFK’s most famous speeches, his victory speech and as soon as he was of age, he decided to volunteer in the army and fully dedicate his life to serving.
I discovered Ron Kovic’s inspirational story while going through some Oliver Stone interviews, working on war films. I had earlier studied the Vietnam war in European History class, and this was by far one of my favorite topics. We mostly discussed public opinion towards the events. Thus, the book was perfectly related to it. And Kovic’s journey stroke my attention. That’s how I ended up with his book in the hands. I was so excited to read it that I’ve even been a bit disappointed when I saw how short-lengthed it was. Indeed, about two hundred pages were not enough according to me. Hopefully, it has been my only discontent.
Ron Kovic’s writing style is very smooth and regular which makes it a very pleasant read. On the whole, this story is heartwarming and delightful. It is a tearjerker that will blow your mind if you’re fond of honest biographies depicting sterling people. It also purveys a perspective on the war that modern occidental societies were not used to see much during instantaneous postwar eras. As young people tend to know less about these soldiers as “fallen heroes”, and more allegedly pro-war propaganda and patriotic movies are famed as Lone Survivor and Clint Eastwood’s brand new movie American Sniper, currently undergoing serious controversy, it is always relevant to recall the past and evoke it in such matters we’re going through, through history. Fulfilled with great emotions, there still are some deeply intense moments of action. From his first experiences on the front to his rebellion against the American administration with Vietnam Veteran Against the War organization (VVAW), we observe the growth of a simple citizen turning into a peace advocate. A pure and remarkable masterpiece, this prodigious work is now available with a recent introduction from Ron Kovic himself in the 2005 edition in which he refers to the Iraq war and the similarities he perceived. His heartening experience, the fight in which he took part and the questions he raises are as pertinent as yesterday and enables a look back on the culture of the sixties.
Thus Born on the Fourth of July is a truthful arousing testimony of a man’s life which sets an unconventional vision on war. Far away from other flag-waving soldier’s autobiographies, this authentic story will inspire people to reflect on what war means and all of what it involves. As the New York Times proclaims, it is a “classic and timeless” publication. Moreover, Stone’s adaptation to the big screen is a brilliant tribute to the personage. Tom Cruise’s moving performance is admirable, and hence, it is a must-watch and a must-read! A breathtaking read that I very heartily recommend to anyone in search of being enlivened.
Have you read or watched it? Are you planning to do so?
NB: THE PICTURE WAS TAKEN BY ME.