Redondo Beach, California, December 15, 2011 – A portrait of author and anti-war activist Ron Kovic near the Redondo Beach Pier a few blocks from where he lives. He says he loves the pier and visits often. Kovic is best known as the author of the memoir Born on the Fourth of July, which was made into an Academy Award–winning movie directed by Oliver Stone, with Tom Cruise playing Kovic. He received the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay on January 20, 1990, exactly 22 years to the day that he was wounded in Vietnam and was also nominated for an Academy Award for best screenplay. Kovic, who volunteered and served for two tours in Vietnam, was shot through the chest and foot leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. His politics about the war began to change after the shootings at Kent State. He spoke at rallies opposing the war and was arrested 12 times for political protest, including a famous interruption of the 1972 Republican National Convention. In 1974 he led a hunger strike protesting the poor treatment of injured veterans returning from the war and was instrumental in changing conditions in the country’s Veterans Affairs facilities. He has since worked to help returning veterans, VA conditions and as an anti-war spokesman.
Kovic remains upbeat and a force to be reakoned with, despite his adversity. He says his doctors told him early on that he wouldn't live to 30. "I proved them wrong," says Kovic. Adding that his tragedy has been a blessing in that it has led him on a mission on behalf of peace.