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Ron Kovic: Breaking the Silence of the Night

Posted on Oct 10, 2006
Ron Kovic
AP / Reed Saxon

Disabled Vietnam War veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic, subject of the film “Born on the Fourth Of July,” reaches out to touch fingers with an admirer during a massive protest against U.S. involvement in Iraq.  The demonstration occurred in downtown Los Angeles in September 2005.

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I remember watching the 1968 Chicago Republican National Convention on TV with other paralyzed veterans in their wheelchairs, the crowds in the streets outside the convention hall chanting, “The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!” as antiwar demonstrators were beaten and bloodied by police and dragged into waiting paddy wagons. Most of my fellow veterans were angry at the protesters, cursing them and calling them traitors, but I remember feeling very differently that night. What the police had done was wrong, and for the first time, though I did not share it with anyone yet, I began to sympathize with the demonstrators.

It was not long after that that I left the hospital and began attending classes at Hofstra University on Long Island, determined to rise above what had happened to me and begin a new life after the war. It was a quiet and peaceful campus, so different from Vietnam and the hospital, and it was at the university that I was to first hear the passionate exchange of ideas and different points of view. Many of the discussions had to do with the war and why it had to end. There were the lit candles and the moratoriums, the John Lennon song “Give Peace a Chance,”  and I remember listening to the Woodstock album and hearing Jimi Hendrix’s wild rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” for the first time. There was the infamous My Lai massacre poster, “And babies too?” It was shocking and I could not help but think back to that night during my second tour of duty when we shot those women and children by mistake, all those bloody bodies, the old man with his brains hanging out and that Vietnamese child whose foot had nearly been shot off, dangling by a thread. 

I continued to attend classes, still keeping my thoughts and feelings about the war deep inside of me and sharing them with no one.

It was during this period that I read Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” and was immediately struck by the concept of “resistance to civil government and non cooperation with evil” seeming to directly contradict what I had once believed in as a boy—that my country was always right and could do no wrong. The whole idea that we as citizens had a right to follow our conscience and resist laws that were unjust and immoral had a powerful effect on me.  I was later to learn that Senator Joseph McCarthy had attempted to ban Thoreau’s essay (



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) and that both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King’s philosophy of creative nonviolence as a tactic for social change had been strongly influenced by their reading of “Civil Disobedience.” 

There was “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “Nigger: An Autobiography” by Dick Gregory and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” which exposed the brutality and horror of colonialism. I remember reading Jerry Rubin’s “Do It” and Abbie Hoffman’s “Revolution for the Hell of It,” astounded at the sheer audacity of these two “Yippie” (Youth International Party) radicals and their willingness to stand up to the most powerful government in the world and its policy in Vietnam. They were wild and outrageous, and believed in revolution and were not afraid to say it or write about it and act it out. There was the article in Ramparts magazine by the Army Green Beret Sergeant Donald Duncan, who had turned against the war, and I remember someone from the university mentioning that a Vietnam veteran from Suffolk Community College was now heading the S.D.S. (Students for a Democratic Society) on his campus.

There were the Columbia University sit-ins and Woodstock and the alternative radio station WBAI, which I listened to in my room late at night, deeply moved by talk of protest and revolution, power to the people and provocative antiwar songs that brought tears to my eyes, giving me an entirely different perspective on what was happening in Vietnam and here at home.

America seemed to be tearing itself apart; never before had the nation been so polarized, not since the Civil War had we as a people been so divided. Everything was being questioned, nothing was sacred, even the existence of God was now suspect. The very earth beneath my feet seemed to be shifting, and there no longer seemed to be any guarantees, or anything that could be trusted or believed in anymore. Many of the students had become so angry and frustrated with the war and what was going on that they had begun to give up on America. Many wondered if we were ever really a “democracy” to begin with, while still others spoke openly of leaving the country and abandoning America forever. I continued attending my classes, trying to be a good student, but I could not help but be affected by all the things that were happening around me. Several weeks later while sitting in the back of a crowded auditorium I remember listening to the impassioned words of the late Congressman Allard Lowenstein, who had come to speak at our campus that day, fiercely condemning the war and telling us all to not give up and that it was “better to reclaim the country than abandon it!”

It was about that time I received a call from my friend Bobby Muller, whom I had first met at the Bronx Veterans Hospital only a few months before and who had also been paralyzed in Vietnam, asking me if I would join him at Levittown Memorial High School on Long Island later that week to speak against the war. I remember being hesitant at first, telling him I wasn’t sure. I had never spoken in public before and the thought of giving my first speech against the war frightened me. When I got off the phone I felt an uncomfortable burning in my stomach.  A part of me wanted to speak for all I had seen in Vietnam and the hospital and for all the thoughts and feelings I had been having ever since I had begun attending classes at the university, while another part could not help but think of what might happen to me if I did. Would I be called a traitor? Would I end up in some FBI file, no longer the quiet student sitting in his wheelchair alone on the outskirts of the demonstrations but now a direct participant, a radical, a demonstrator? I would be stepping over the line and joining with the very people I had once thought of as traitors. What would my mother and father think if they found out? And the veterans at the university—what would they say? Would they feel that I had betrayed them?  Bobby called me several times that week, sounding a bit impatient, but again I hesitated, telling him that I hadn’t made up my mind yet.  I asked him if he would call me the following morning, which was the day of the speech, saying I would let him know for sure. I could hardly sleep that night, tossing and turning, tormented by fear and doubt, trapped between the awful twilight of what might happen to me if I did speak and what I knew would continue to happen if I remained silent.

Next page:  There were the trials and days and nights I spent in jail in my wheelchair feeling more like a criminal than someone who had risked his life for his country, but I continued to speak.

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By Gabriel Collett, March 31, 2011 at 4:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are a great spirit and a great person in history
all the deaths by war will never end the courage
of those who want to have peace as a solution
and the death of greed as the answer to all of
our problems,
what a great guy you are! Be well everywhere!
What a leader you are!

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By debbie cline, July 24, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Ron, you truly are a hero!  I was young when you were fighting for what you believed a good cause, 9 or 10 years old, my father a Marine himself.  I can distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen table and hearing him argue with my mother over all the reasons our country didn’t belong in Viet Nam, not that my mother had any clue or could even argue the issue, but more so he could make himself and his thoughts on the subject heard, I can hear him all of these years later talking about the north and the south and how we had no business being there. The photo of the Vietnamese girl running naked in the streets still haunts me as it did all those years ago. I remember thinking as a child would; that could be me.  I wore my POW bracelet, praying he would be safe and not really understanding any of it.  Now in my 50’s, I see it happening all again, only this time I better understand what is happening, how corrupt our government really is, how they keep us just where they want us and how they manipulate us with brainwashing and mind playing techniques.  I wonder now why they never taught me a thing in regard to the Viet Nam War while going through high school, I wonder why it is that my father, a Marine himself would feel so bitterly about the war, I wonder why my friend, Jim, a gunner who came home with many decorations was hesitant to show them to me and acted as though nobody really cared to see them anyways!  But the day I visited The Wall, located my cousin, Chuck Kaelins name, and thought about the horror he had endured I realized how my own thoughts had changed so very much.  I also saw many men at the Wall, they were not close, they stood off in the distance, many down low to the ground, the expressions on their faces were somber, sad, off far away to another time, another place, and I realized, they were there, they had fought, they had killed, they saw death every day, they had lived it, and they made me openly cry.  They came home, they survived, they were all heroes.  Heroes to what, I think many of them contemplated, as do I, they were not treated well, they were not given credit for what they sacrificed.  The conditions of the VA hospitals were horrific and as far as I am concerned are still far from good even today.  Thats our great country, thats our wonderful government, the same ones who brainwashed our men to “fight for their country” and then threw them to the dogs when they no longer had any use for them. How do men who return from the war fit back into society?  Where do they belong, they no longer see anything in the same perspective, they no longer have anything in common with those who did not go,  how could they?  How anyone could call you a traitor I cannot fathom.  You served your country, you did what you thought and believed was the right thing to do, for that you are brave, you are a hero.  I applaud you, I can’t imagine the difficulties you have faced, you and many, many others.  No one has the right to question anything you have done, for they have not walked in your shoes, they have not felt the heartbreaking pain, or remembered the constant memories.  But you my friend, have lived and have seen the entire spectrum, so who are “they” to condemn your words or how you think?  “They” are no one Ron, “they” have not experienced what you have, “they” do not have the right to judge anyone, and “they” will never be the hero you have become.  God Bless you Ron, for overcoming a tremendous, life changing experience and for becoming such an inspiration to those of us who do not fully see or understand what truly did happen.  Thank you for helping to open our eyes, our hearts and for the work you do in the hopeful yearning that history will one day stop repeating itself and hurt and sadness will not prevail but that we will all be able to live in a more peaceful world.  God Bless you.

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By paul oliverio, April 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

re: A personal friend/fellow VietNam veteran/fellow activist

(accompanied RK to El Salvador)

Mr. Kovic

Ray Peterssen just had what VA doctors called “life-threatening liver surgery”. He is doing well in recovery. If you have his Lori Peterssen’s cell phone number, you can reach Ray in San Diego. or contact me for further info.

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By Metajohn, September 20, 2009 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

Dear Mr. Ron Kovic,
    I shared your bewilderment at the US involvement in Vietnam. I am just a year younger - born in 1947.  My father and his brother, both served in the US Navy during WWII. 
  I grew up on the L.A.-Orange County line, in a conservative, patriotic, anti-communist era.  One HS teacher was a POW in Korea; another, an Army Reservist, was called up during the Berlin, and the Cuban Missile Crises.  I was a Junior when JFK was shot by Oswald.
  My new High School, opened in 1960, the year before I entered it, already had it’s first Vietnam KIA before we graduated in ‘65.  At least one more of my ‘65 class would die there in the next few years.
  My father was an Aerospace Engineer.  He had worked on Missile Guidance, then on FB-111 avionics, and, later on the B-1 project.  I had every reason to be a supporter, and a participant in the Vietnam war—it was my birthright.  It seemed, almost, as though my father had returned from the South Pacific just so his sons would be of age for the next American Wars.
  But they educated me too well—they gave me critical thinking skills I used them to ask questions nobody wanted to hear, and, for which they gave either unsatisfactory answers, or no answers at all, preferrring to intimidate me into obedient silence with harsh cursing.
    It didn’t work.  Once I began to unravel the US involvement, the trail of lies and deceits dating from Truman and Eisenhower, then JFK, and reaching a state of almost complete fantasy under LBJ, and then murderous malice under Nixon, I began to understand that my country was not the Guiding Beacon of Hope in the world we were told it was, nor were out hands clean when it came to the slaughter of innocents. 
    I suspected something was amiss in HS when I noticed just how many Right-Wing Tyrants, and dictators my country was propping up, and supporting around the globe.  Somehow we only really believed in democracry here, others weren’t “evolved” enough to understand it, like we did.  “Huh?” I thought—that don’t make sense.

Rebuttal: SGT T, comment # 92279 Sez, “... The only thing that ticks me off about President Bush is that he’s letting the likes of CNN (I call it the Clinton News Network) and other media agencies win ...”
  WRONG! Once again we have the incantation of the “liberal News Media” mantra, as though, repetition alone can prove the charge to be true.  CNN is Middle-of-the-Road—SGT T and his ilk are so far out on the Right-Wing that nearly every moderate opinon, and institution seems “Liberal” to them!
    Here is the real story on the Corporatacracy which owns and controls CNN:

Television Holdings:
* CNN, HBO, Cinemax, TBS Superstation, Turner Network Television, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Brothers Television, Cartoon Network, Sega Channel, TNT, Comedy Central (50%), E! (49%), Court TV (50%).
* Largest owner of cable systems in the US with an estimated 13 million subscribers.
Media Holdings:
* AOL (America Online). AOL acquired Time Warner— at that time the largest merger in corporate history).
* HBO Independent Productions, Warner Home Video, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera.
* Music: Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, Sire, Warner Bros. Records, EMI, WEA, Sub Pop (distribution) = the world’s largest music company.
* 33 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, People, In Style, Fortune, Book of the Month Club, Entertainment Weekly, Life, DC Comics (50%), and MAD Magazine.
Other Holdings:
* Sports: The Atlanta Braves, The Atlanta Hawks, World Championship Wrestling.

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By Karen Quinn-Tostado, January 7, 2009 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After watching “The Fourth of July”, I am left wondering what the content of Ron’s 1976 speech to the Democratic convention was. I’ve googled but not found it. Any clarification would be appreciated.


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By JD, October 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am doing a report or biography on you Ron. I really appreciate these motivational words you have given us.  I watched Born on the fourth of july and am starting your book. I dont see how people like Vel Kovic dont respect you, but I do good words

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By Eric Lindquist, August 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i just got done watching born on the fourth of july for it seems like the 100th time. The part where the people in the republican national convention scream and call you a traitor and a communist makes me sad. I don’t agree with you politically or take many of your stances on issues, but i would always defend your right to say it. I myself did vote for President Bush twice and have just recently become disgusted with his second term.

September 11th was a tragic day and I am wondering how do we really solve this problem of terrorism. War should always be the last resort but we have to find a way to educate the people in the middle east to stop the hate of jews and western culture like joseph goebbels did during nazi germany! I’m also not naive to the point that we don’t have our machine rolling as well, but i would like to believe that we also have more viewpoints to choose from too.

The point I’m trying to make Mr. Kovic is I strongly believe that you are entitled to your opinion even though i don’t agree with certain aspects and you my friend should never be called a traitor!

Eric Lindquist
Chicago, IL

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By Jane Ryva, August 10, 2008 at 12:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A Letter to Ron Corvic

I have just again watched Born on the 4th of July after many years.What a powerful excellent movie and so pertinent today! What a gift Ron and Oliver gave to the world!

I was born on April 4th,1946 and lived through this chaotic time too. Our generation saw the destruction of youthful idealism and disgust with the betrayal of the basic, simple values of early christianity and the ideals of democracy. Hypochrisy really gets my goat.

The cold war was traumatic for us Boomers-I remember the ducking under our desks for atomic bonb drills in school. My hands were tied by domineering parents who would not allow me to protest. All the rest of our family was behind the Iron Curtain and they didn’t want me to get on a radical list.

I studied HODERN HISTORY AT THE UNVERSITY OF TORONTO (1965 to 1970) major was American and German history(I needed to understand how slavery and the holocaust could have happened)... I met many draft doggers. U of T had its share of sit-ins and protests on campus. We Canadians cared and still fear what is happening in the US. I have always loved friendly Americans! What has happened? money God today?

My parents had fled the Communist take over in CZECHOSLOVIA,and we migrated fron Prague in 1947 to Toronto with great difficuly. We would never been allowed to enter if we had been Jews! We left all possessions and family and were among the first refugees. My parents had lived through two wars and hated Germans and were paranoid about communists.

Today I am a semi-retired teacher of ESL to refugees and an addictions counselor. I try to help others succeed using my own experiences….a life’s mission, like Ron’s. We all can do our own humble service for love. I love Canada for opening her arms to refuees and for our universal health care.

At 62,and with 20/20 hindsight, I see I studied and passed on the whitewashed History taught by the best Canadian historians at U of T to my highschool students. There was silence about our native school abuse of aboriginal, glorification of British clonialism—-what tragedies have resulted in so many countries from its seeds.  But I know now, considering my WASP teacher’s interpretations which I passed on, that I betrayed my own values. The truth is so impossible to find in History. We don’t learn lessons from it either sadly! My heroes are also Ghandhi and Martin Luther King.

I have slowly grown my own spiritual transformation through the 12 steps of AA and much therapy over the past 20 years. Enlightenment often comes after near death of the spirit, if we survive.

After watching your movie, I had to e-mail to let you know that your suffering has born this gift of love of humanity that has impacted so many millions.
Your strength of character is a testimony to the resilience of the human soul and inspiration to others.
Thank you and God bless you!

Jane in Calgary

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By awakened, July 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The job our military is doing in Iraq and Afghanland is to be commended. Their bravery and expertice is well known and respected throughout the world. They are loved and adored by the very citizens they think they are protecting. But they are not at war for what they think they are fighting for. The war is not about freedom for the Afghan and Iraqi peoples. This is a war about the pursuit of one world government, not just by the Bush administration, but by all of the power elites, this includes McCain and Obama. Their desire for control has put our brave men and women in a “harms way” that has made them expendable, not for the pursuit of freedom, but for its demise. Those currently in control of “our” government think of the United States a only a tool for their own purposes, to be discarded like so many of our veterans when they are deeemed worthless and unuseable. Bush and those like him, will abandon the U.S. and its beloved Constitution for NAFTA and the coming Union of North America which are currently creating, all under the guise that we must toss aside the Constitution and create another political entity if we are to survive and compete in the international scene. This is bull. Do not believe these liars. If you want to rise up and protest, rise up and protest their secret agenda. Concentrate all efforts on not just the war, but also on the safe keeping of our fundamental rights as Americans, of a sovereign nation, and the destruction of their diabolical intentions. Honor yourself as an American and resist their attempts to destroy our economy, our way of life, our Constituional heritage, and the memories of all of the brave souls who have fought in all our wars for the very things they are trying to destroy. God bless America.

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By dale, January 26, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

maybe ron kovic had a spiritual awakening?

opinions represented as fact. we get a lot of that, it seems.


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By Bob Bruno, December 25, 2007 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And I use the term losely,  you were a flake on Jan 20th, 1968 and you are a flake now.  I was with you, what a whiner when you got hit on that track.  YOU were not alone.  What the hell makes you so special.
You spoke up?  NO, you were annoying.  Its tough when people who were actually there with you on that trac, knew you went on 30 days leave if you were to extend 6 months.  Who held a gun to your head.
What a hypocrite!

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By SGT T, August 5, 2007 at 2:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Please NO!! remain silent. I am so tired of hearing people say they support the troops but believe the filth of the people on this website. I cleaned up after the WTC I’ve served in Iraq and Afganland. So believe me I’ve seen the stuff the news stays away from and I’m proud of it. The only thing that ticks me off about President Bush is that he’s letting the likes of CNN (I call it the Clinton News Network) and other media agencies win because he’s afraid of what will happen if you Dems win the next election(so am I), hes stoped fighting. What was it Jefferson said the Masses are A**es, ya know if you don’t like what this country stands for and actually believe your own filth please Cuba and friends of yours like Chavez are only a boat ride away Ill even pay it for you, I know you Dems don’t like to actually earn anything. I’m going to stop you probably won’t let this stay up very long anyways.

A disgusted NCO

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By Carl, June 22, 2007 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fuck The War. Okay~

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By Ron Huegel, May 28, 2007 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

straight_talk_11,you’ve expressed yourself very well, and I must agree with you vis-a-vis the politicians.  It doesn’t matter what your stance, the politicians take no notice of what you, the constituent, want, nor do they care what you feel about the major issues facing our country.  The people with money and power, e.g. bankers, CEOs of large corporations, etc., dictate this nations policies.  The only exception is if the constituent belongs to a special-interest group.

On the issue of Viet Nam, I still believe we were right to come to the aid of an ally, and I have no regrets about serving there.  Had there been a moderate government in place in Hanoi, perhaps I would feel differently, but I have spoken with people who spent as much as fifteen years in the communist “re-education” camps, as well as to Vietnamese who were witnesses to the slaughter that took place after the north completed its conquest.

I believe I stated before that I harbor no animosity toward those who have opposing viewpoints about the war.  I do detest, however, those who became “anti-war activists” simply for self-serving purposes.

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By straight_talk_11, May 28, 2007 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

Ron Huegel, there are almost always fools on both sides of any issue. The fools that spat on you or on whoever it is to whom you refer were not running the government or charged with overseeing the care veterans receive. Fools are much more easily tolerated when they are powerless, and what better sign of powerlessness and misguided vitriol is there than feeling the need to spit on a fellow human who was honestly risking his life for what he thought, rightly or wrongly, was the good of his country?

I have an uncle who served twenty-two years as a non-commissioned officer. The last several years of that were spent in Vietnam. He re-upped when he could have retired after twenty years because he felt he could save young, relatively untrained American lives by staying with them.

He got malaria and it aged him tremendously. He still suffers physically from the consequences. He now questions the rightness of that war, but remains unsure, probably because he finds it difficult to accept that his and the much greater sacrifices of others was for a misguided cause, to put it kindly.

I love him, but I never thought that war was a valid cause. I was rejected from volunteering for the Air Force to avoid the draft for Vietnam because they spotted a mild tendency toward diabetes of which I was unaware and which at sixty-three I have still never developed.

Despite my radical differences with my uncle concerning Vietnam, I respected his motives, naive as I felt and continue to feel they were. Love is the only true antidote for war, and I’m NOT referring to the stupid hippie idea of love as sleeping around instead of going to war as epitomized in their “love not war” signs.

If those in a position to profit from war had any genuine love for humankind, they would not use their overweening and undeserved financial power to send innocent, naive soldiers to die, not to mention “collateral damage” that takes the lives of a many times that in civilian casualties, in order to garner even more of their ill-gotten wealth, as if they even needed it in the first place.

This is a great evil in the world and constitutes the real “axis of evil”. The saddest and worst part is that our government works for them! Wake up America, while you’re still able to do something about it!

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By Ron Huegel, March 28, 2007 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re comment #58722 by DTY - You mention the treatment given returning vets by the government in general and the VA in particular.  You’ve conveniently left out the treatment afforded all returning vets by the anti-war, anti-American liberals.  Being spit upon for serving one’s country cannot be considered a welcome home!

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By DTY, March 14, 2007 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just to get it right: Ron Kovic’s conversion to anti-war protester was not simply due to his being injured and paralyzed. It had much more to do with his treatment following his injury and return home where he (and other injured vets) were treated with little respect and simply warehoused in insanitary VA hospitals.  The government couldn’t be bothered funding adequate medical care and thus sent a message to these veterans that their sacrifice didn’t matter. Disillusioned? Who wouldn’t be?

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By Martin, January 8, 2007 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I grew up in the USA, and narrowly missed going to Viet Nam because I failed the physical.  I have been away from the U.S. in various countries for almost 30 years now.  Seeing life from an outside perspective helps me to see how wrong it is that the government wages war on false pretenses.
    The only one who wins the war are the defense contractors, and the standard advice for finding a criminal is to “follow the money.”
    The most important things in the world are life, love, and truth, and those things all come from God.  Trusting in a government run by vested private interests cannot bring us life, love and truth.

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By Mary, December 17, 2006 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article but best of all the strength to come public and be anti-war in the Vienam era is a hard thing to have done back then.  I am grateful that you had the courage to speak out and tell it like it is.  Thanks for being very brave both on the battlefield and in your comments and work that you are doing.

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By Ron Huegel, December 16, 2006 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For Marie Comment #42365:

If you think you now understand the Viet Nam War after reading Ron Kovic’s book, Marie, you are sadly mistaken.  As you said, there were many soldiers and many stories, so I’d suggest you read a much wider range of stories instead of relying on this one book.

Yes, I do think that Mr. Kovic’s unfortunate choice of direction in his life is merely intended for his own self-aggrandizement.  He had many chances to criticize the war prior to being wounded.  In fact, as you know, he even chose to return to Viet Nam for a second tour.  So please don’t let your emotions cloud your objective reasoning.

Although I am a Viet Nam Veteran, I have nothing against those who opposed the war.  Rather, I do hold those in disdain who use their service in that war for their self-promotion, such as John Kerry, John Murtha and Ron Kovic.

If you would seriously like to discuss the war, I would be glad to have you contact me so that you can have at least a well-rounded view of the history of that conflict

Ron huegel

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By Marie, December 15, 2006 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A friend of mine just gave me “Born on the Fourth of July” to read.  Ever since I was a junior in high school (I am now 20…still a young kid…) I have been reading about the Vietnam War.  No one would ever tell me anything about it…and the lessons on it in history class were a joke. 

This was something very powerful, very raw, very emotional and very truthful to read…ranking up there with Laura Van DeVanter’s “Home Before Morning.”  (In my opinion)

Even now, after so much time has passed, it is very difficult to obtain any shred of truth;  especially for young people who are eager to learn.  This is a very demanding book; one that forces the reader to continue reading long after the pages have been finished. 

I have read some of the other posts others have left concering this article and its author; including posts left by other veterans.  It really disgusted me to see one such veteran claiming Mr. Kovic’s actions were a cry for “attention” sad it is that one must degrade another’s efforts for peace. 

There were many different units in the war - in any war - and each had their own duties, own stories, own secrets and nightmares…not every unit, not every soldier was (or is) the same. 

There are certain things from the past that elicit such strong reactions, that sometimes it takes a great deal of time and personal evaluation to really digest what has happened in order to reform any clear and precise “opinion” or belief. 

It took a great deal of time and courage for Mr. Kovic to really re-assess the beliefs of his childhood and take that life-altering step towards those new outlooks and beliefs.  He should be lauded tremendously for his efforts.  The world could use a few more like him. 

God Bless our Troops.

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By Ron Huegel, November 13, 2006 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
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While I take nothing away from your service in Viet Nam, I can’t help wondering why you became so conscientious only after your crippling wounds?  You served one full tour in country, then you volunteered for a second tour.  You were gung-ho right up until the time you were seriously wounded.  I can’t help but feel that the reason you turned against the war is that you wanted attention.  Had you done otherwise you would have been just one more disabled vet.  However, by joining the anti-war movement, you became a celebrity for having “been there.”  I, too, served with the Marine Corps in Viet Nam.  I, too, was wounded, although not as seriously as you had been.  I even return almost yearly to that beautiful country, which is now at peace.  But I can’t help thinking about those hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese who were killed after the “liberation” of the South.  Nor can I stop thinking about the thousand of American service members who were killed because you and your “friends” prolonged a war that had been won, by the North’s own addmission, after the 1968 Tet Offensive.

Ron Huegel
1st Force Recon Co.
RVN 1970

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By Alex Wagner, November 8, 2006 at 11:03 pm Link to this comment
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As promised, I just read your essay. I was moved and inspired by what you wrote and what you said to us tonight. I will continue to educate myself on this war and on our political system. Thank you so much for speaking to us tonight. Keep on fighting - you will inspire many.

Alex Wagner
(granddaughter of the Flying Tiger)

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By dara aka ldyradr, October 27, 2006 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
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Hi Ron,
I read “Breaking” this morning. As I read, I was amazed at how you echoed my thoughts, about the losses in the 60’s of Martin, and Bobby, about Viet Nam and Iraq, about the government and the fact they have become our own worst enemy.  I have been vocal, and lately afraid of the consequences of my words.  After reading this, I know I must continue to speak out, to do what I can to educate my fellow citizens, regardless. 
Today after reading Breaking the Silence, I feel a great peace within myself, an understanding that being vocal, no matter what, is OK…
Thank you Ron.

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By James, October 26, 2006 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
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Mr Kovic is very courageous human being but I don’t agree with his apparent attitude that “The world owes him a great debt of gratitutde.” And that he did everything by the book but still was wounded and paralysed.

There would have been certainly some moments in time that someone who is in a similar position to where Mr Kovic was when he was younger that he / she could have made a different choice.

With all due respect Mr Kovic the world is NOT made of love. Humans are predators by nature but we do all our best to get around that.

Students with more savviness surely would not have volunteered for such dangerous mission. World is a dangerous place and only those who have the wisdom and are savvy enough to stay out of trouble can survive. I am truly sorry that more of those qualities were not with you back then.


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By Bruce Freeman, October 20, 2006 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment
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Ron, I have made the trek from my high school senior essay in 1964 on Viet Nam, in which the last sentence was, “I believe I could give my life for the ideals as stake in Viet Nam,” to finding out about the Tonkin Gulf Incident to being a S/C disabled VN era vet, to this year hosting an overnight stay at our place by Brian Wilson and the other vets of the Veterans for Peace Energy Independence and Sustainable Fuel Impeachment Tour on the way to the Seattle conference. It has been a long trip, hasn’t it? And now we have Iraq. And we have the death of habeas corpus. I am madder than ever and doing all I can still, trying to convince others these times are “Worse Than Watergate,” as John Dean calls it. More dangerous than Viet Nam and the demonstrations. That these are the worst of times for our freedom is in peril and we better stand up and speak to power and take to the streets and to the halls of Congress and not take it any more. We have no other choice, do we? Thanks for your words here. Welcome home… —- Bruce, former Navy corpsman

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By Peter Warner, October 20, 2006 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment
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Before I read your words tonight, I was in full despair, agonizing over my place as a tax-paying citizen supporting the ignominious American assault on the world, and the government’s betrayal of its people.  At least I can now see that many of us know the truth, and that is a place to start to crawl out of the abyss.

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By BRIAN B., October 20, 2006 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment
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By bunkie, October 20, 2006 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment
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thank you for this Ron! it is a time when we need all soldiers and veterans to speak up and give the people the truth. perhaps if the people knew the truth they’d pitch in to stop these senseless, immoral, illegal wars.

i very much appreciate all your works and all you’ve done.

peace, bunkie.

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By jesse, October 17, 2006 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment
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Very well said, thank you.  It is a shame that you or any other person had to suffer or die like this in that most awful Vietnam war.

To all those reading - learn the lessons of the vietnam war - ok here it is spelled out for you

Vietnam and North Korea as well as Germany were forced into a two state solution to effectively neutralize them.

The lesson not learned is this - our beautiful country herself was placed in a two state solution and it’s known as the Civil War where a President was assinated as well. 

Here’s the news - anyone awake in America…

Two state solution has morphed

you have two versions 1. cripple   2. handicap

Iraq is a proposed 3 state cripple solution with permanent bases.

USA is a proposed 3 state handicap solution with the CAFTA and super highway and all.

The military commissions act is set-up for another draft. 

The USA scenario will continue to gather steam until martial law is declared.

That was real easy right.

Man, I am so dissappointed in all the hot heads, know it alls, repenters, everyone

The reason Vietnam was so wrong for the U.S. is that we suffered the Civil War and then did IT to someone else.

Guess what? tactics have changed - 3 state handicap (soft) solution if RIGHT ON TOP OF US.

Some of us in the middle generation asked questions and didn’t friggin read red manifestos to look for answers.

By the way it is confirmed, that Chavez in his many speeches at the U.N said I quote, “we are building towards a new, new world order”.

See hot heads and repenters - Both Bush and Chavez are in on it.

The U.S. our beloved country is in deep mud.

So talk about the Iraq war.  Be blind to the 3 state solution. Cuz I saw the news tonight and friggin North Korea had a public demonstation that was PURE 3Rd Reich spectacle.  They had more people out than the olympics.  It was nasty with torches and mass waves of people.  Man, just millions of people on the street.  Now get this.  They themselves are just being set-up for slaughter. 

So remember - if we enter a new world war - we lose the U.S. to a combined Canada, US, Mexico AMERO policy - akimbo to the Euro but we don’t agree to it.

yeah history is learned - good luck. 

American Revolution is the road map out of this.

That’s two fronts by the way for those keeping count.  Hard and Soft.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on your people.  Blessed are the peacemakers.

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By podios, October 17, 2006 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
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I’m old enough to remember the Vietnam war. I didn’t serve and I was active in the anti-war movement, as unfortunetly I still am today. There’s not many people I respect more than the ” gung-ho, rah-rah, love it or leave it veterans”, who later went on to question their deep rooted convictions and use their experience to educate others to the real horrors of war.  Ron Kovic, Ron Ranft and Ed Conley certainly fall into that category, as do so many others. They are true heroes.

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By joy morocco, October 16, 2006 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment
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You are and always have been a hero of mine.  Without strong voices speaking truth in America we have nothing. I believe the good people of our country are waking up and with any luck we’ll see the change we all have been waiting for all these years.
I hope I live long enough to see wars become a thing of the past, and those who profit from it put in jail where they belong. 

Everyone get out and vote in November.  We must
take America back for the people.  we must continue to stand together for the truth and peace and justice for all. 

Thanks for all you are doing.

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By Hal Muskat, October 16, 2006 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
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Ron, good writing! Wasn’t it just the other day I loaded you, your chair & reams of papers into my taxi in North Beach??

Be well Brother, McClock says “you rock!” - yeah, I talk to him every once in a while!

Peace, Hal

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By Vel Kovic, October 16, 2006 at 2:37 am Link to this comment
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I understand there is a slight difference between ‘young and stupid’ and ‘old and wise’. That difference is that when you are young and stupid, you don’t become a sheep and go fight someplace which is NOT your country. I am NOT sorry for you Ron and your story definitely is nothing that would touch my soul, ever. I was once ‘young and stupid’ and maybe I still am, but NOBODY under NO PRICE or ANY CIRCUMSTANCES would ever get me to go and kill a human being or animal for someone else. Yes, we would have done some pranks, but going someplace and killing people, and then receiving a medal for something they would send you to ‘old sparky’ back home, is NOT something that one could label as ‘young and stupid’, but more like ‘brain damaged and retarded’.

Frankly speaking, I hope you stop bulls*****ing and don’t pretend to ‘understand’ the world and what’s it all about now, after 40 years. It’s too late for regrets once you kill an innocent being who didn’t do ANYTHING wrong to you or your family.

I know you still don’t sleep well. I do, and so do many of us who were ‘young and stupid’, but never killed anyone.

Vel Kovic

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By Jeff J, October 15, 2006 at 11:15 pm Link to this comment
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Correction-In my comments I mistakenly refered to Karl Rove’s father when I actually was speaking of his grandfather,who was a known Nazi. My apologies to Karl’s father.

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By Jeff J., October 15, 2006 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment
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Micheal B (below) Your disgusting commments reveal you to be one of the brain-washed individuals that the author mentions in the beginning of this article. As clear evidence I would offer your use of the un-american phrase “homeland”. We do not live in the fascist German Fatherland or in the Stalinist Motherland. No sir, we simply inhabit America, our beloved Country. You are parrotting the Rovian dialect, which Karl adopted from his father who helped organize the Nazi party and who also was involved in building the Birkenau concentration camp. Do you even realize that you have adopted the thought processes of a willing victim of totalitarianism?

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By Jo, October 15, 2006 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
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Wow…..great article.  My son went to boot camp on 9/4/01.  When 9/11 happened and I was afraid he’d be deployed, I was really far more concerned with what would happen to him psychologically and emotionally than physically.

My godfather was served in Vietnam.  I was around 12 at the time and I still remember very clearly what he said when he came home on leave one Christmas. He’d done ROTC in college and went in as an officer.  He was talking about how he was having a lot of trouble giving orders knowing that someone would get killed.

A month later, he called his mother and told her that he’d fallen off his bicycle.  He wasn’t allowed to say anything else or tell her where he was.  We later found out that he had led his troop across a field that was supposedly checked for mines - and it was full of them.  He woke up to see his boot up in a tree, still laced up, and his best friend dead by his side.  When the army brought his purple heart up to the hospital, he told them exactly what to do with it.

He only lost part of his foot, but he lost a lot more of himself than that.  He was a completely different person.  He’d always been easygoing and light-hearted, silly and a lot of fun.  The man who came home was very serious and cynical.

Many Vietnam vets are still around.  We get them as hospice patients from time to time. They’ve lived with post-traumatic stress disorder for decades and have never come completely back.

The soldiers in Iraq are going through the same thing, if not worse. They’re living with the constant stress of never really being able to determine who the enemy is and whether they’re going to be blown away at a traffic light, and they’re often ordered to do things that go completely against their conscience and personal and/or religious beliefs. 

Their sacrifice goes totally over the heads of those responsible for this war as well as a large part of the population. A year or two ago, I read an article that implied that Bush said that if we pulled out of Iraq, we’d “look bad.” Who gives a shit? Apparently, “saving face” has more value for him than human life.  The soldiers who aren’t killed and return home in some ways may have been better off if they had.  Their psychological state will cause problems in every single area of their lives, especially those they love most, until the day they die.  Some will even affect society as a whole when they turn to addictions, domestic violence and even crime.

And the VA had the nerve to say a few weeks ago that there’s no such thing as Gulf War Syndrome….......

At the time of 9/11, we were all so angry that we were all for this war.  I don’t remember how long it was before I changed my mind - I think it was early on, maybe the second or third year.  I haven’t supported it for a very long time and the longer it goes on the angrier I get.  I do support our soldiers because they didn’t ask for this and have the courage to stay and do what they have to do.  Perhaps Mr. Bush ought to don his BDU’s and spend a few weeks with the troops.

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By gary296, October 15, 2006 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment
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That’s a great story!  You really put it all in perspective!  The people we’re killing are always going to hate us now for what we’ve done.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.  Saddam’s fatal mistake was paying palestinians to blow themselves up against Israel!

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By Impeach Bush, October 15, 2006 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #28880 by Michael B on 10/15 at 8:26 am

I wonder if Mr. Kovic would have returned to Vietnam for a third tour, had he not been injured?  Sadly, this is a veteran taking his frustrations out on his homeland because of an unfortunate incident.  Let us not forget that he RETURNED for a second tour, only to shoot more innocent Vietnamese people.  I don’t feel sorry in the least bit for you Mr. Kovic.  Don’t shame your fellow soldiers that fought and died in Vietnam.

Michael B.— You’re an idiot.

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By Michael B, October 15, 2006 at 8:26 am Link to this comment
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I wonder if Mr. Kovic would have returned to Vietnam for a third tour, had he not been injured?  Sadly, this is a veteran taking his frustrations out on his homeland because of an unfortunate incident.  Let us not forget that he RETURNED for a second tour, only to shoot more innocent Vietnamese people.  I don’t feel sorry in the least bit for you Mr. Kovic.  Don’t shame your fellow soldiers that fought and died in Vietnam.

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By John Hanks, October 14, 2006 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
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I hate these traitors who have constantly ripped off this country.  But, I have no illusions.  The average American is nothing but a lazy coward (like all the other peoples on this planet).  And the remainder are just Republican crooks and suckers.  H.L. Mencken said that he thought of this country as a vicious bragging whore, and the only time he felt any sympathy for her was when she was being chased by the police.  (This time the whore has cried wolf one too many times.)

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By Frank Cavestani, October 14, 2006 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment
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I am proud to have been part of helping stop the Vietnam War with Ron Kovic, and others in the past.  This brave piece in Truthdig by Ron Kovic states clearly and so very eloquently how soldiers such as Ron and others like myself came home from that horrible evil conflict more then 30 years ago went through transition, a mental change, and saw and spoke the truth.  That truth helped turn the great people of this nation around by openly declaring the Vietnam War a mistake. It took years and a bloody struggle.  This time let us quickly welcome home our new veterans from yet another mistaken conflict by our government.  Hug our sons and daughters when they come home, tell them “welcome home,” and let them quickly see it is now their turn, as Ron Kovic others did in the past—to speak out loudly against this war in Iraq so that the veterans themselves and the people of Iraq can live in peace once again.  Thanks Ron.

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By Guitarsandmore, October 14, 2006 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment
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First, let us remember that America has a representative Democracy and those that are elected to office are public servants doing the public’s bidding.

Write to your Senator and Congressman and explain exactly what you are thinking and what you would like them to do.

On Election Day show no mercy to those candidates who continue to believe preemptive strikes are a substitute for diplomacy and negotiation.

Politicians who impose sanctions on countries that already have starving and unemployed populations are cruel and inhumane. 

We will succeed when we choose to reach out and join each other and other countries in a partnership of peace and prosperity.

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By Ronald D, October 14, 2006 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
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I too lived through the era. I gave up my College deferment in 69 when my Draft Lotto number was 206 and they stopped at 201. I too had mixed feelings about Nam and ended solidly against it. I was in the eight grade when JFK was assignated and didn’t believe the warren commision (then MLK, RK) I haven’t trusted those whom have run the country since. I KNEW by the universal propoganda on 911 WHOM was really responsible. You can’t not know it was going to happen and know (supposedly) who did it. What a false flag Fairy Tale. Bluffing isn’t this administrations MO, and they are radically building up to Syria & Iran. With an exhausted Military there is No way this can turn out well. Attacking Iran will be the Neocon’s undoing! I find it haard to believe everyone can’t see the agenda when the talk about Freedoms and they completely trash our Rights.

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By Shellie, October 14, 2006 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
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Thank you, Ron, for such a beautiful and moving essay.  Thank you! 

But what do we do now?  The people in power just keep pulling us and the rest of the world deeper into their nightmare.

Peaceful protests are not working.  300,000 in NYC in spring 2006 - barely noticed. Is it all about November 7th and getting control of the House or Sentate or both? Impeachment?  Civil disobedience?

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By Kurt Stine, October 14, 2006 at 12:35 am Link to this comment
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Ron, thank you for stepping up, again.

“My country right or wrong” has never floated my boat, but rather conscience.

The pendulum has swung too far to the right, and this election day we need to vote our conscience and bring the pendulum back closer to center again.  Too far right, or too far left, will destroy the America we love ...

God bles you, Ron.

US Army 64/65
VVAW 68/70

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By MARIAM RUSSELL, October 13, 2006 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you, Sir.

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By ED, October 13, 2006 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment
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By Sunbear, October 13, 2006 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
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Ron - I was moved to tears reading of your struggle with your commitment and reverence for your country being tested as you came to terms with the immorality and bastardisation which is WAR.  How wonderful it is that you came to know the difference?  But how tragic it is that you had to fight a war to find that out!  You are a brave, honourable and truly amazing human being, and I thank you for your honesty, raw vulnerability and integrity.  I just wish more people could reach your understanding of the hideous results of wars.  I live in hope!

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By Joan, October 13, 2006 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment
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Wonderful that you have the courage, both in war and now in our present day.  We need to have people write to the Congressmen and to the local newspapers and tell them how we feel about this terrible war in Iraq.

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By Patrick Sullivan, October 13, 2006 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment
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In 1966 while operating off of the coast of Viet Nam many thoughts passed through my head.

The one big one that remains until this day is, how do we prevent an all out nuclear war?

Nuclear missiles above deck ready to fire and in the ships hold, more nuclear tipped weapons to continue the battle, the Battle that for certain will lead to the extermination of the human race.

It is only more recently that I have learned that the plans from the early days of the nuclear age, were to destroy the mass of the human race with the use of nuclear weapons.

The plan is still in effect, they have not decided upon a path of peace. Our “Master” class determined that we the human race should eat nuclear waste on our journey to the nuclear hell that they still plan to give us.

While out to sea a “UFO” buzzed into the area. The word came down from above that it was “only reflections of the ships lights.”

Since that time I have learned that those “Reflections” are craft from some high level power who have arrived from some still unknown world, with the purpose to prevent the immolation of the human race in an all out nuclear conflagration.

Our nuclear war fighting elite may not really be Bad, or evil, yet they surely are stuck on “Animal Primitivism.”

Ron Kovic points out clearly the impostor and fraud that America is, yet most folks are still not aware of the plans to give us all, what they give to the “Third Worlders,” every chance they get, death and destruction.

The Deceptions of our nuclear war fighting elite are deep and profound, yet they are thin as demonstrated by pulling the fire alarm, when Ron was speaking. When ordinary people hear the truth, they understand it, and that is why our nuclear war fighting elite do not want the people to hear the truth. If the people ever figure out that these nuclear weapons of genocidal mass destruction have their names on them, a change will happen.

When it then finally sinks in that our nuclear war fighting elite have already pulled the nuclear trigger on us, repeatedly, they have tried to exterminate us all with nuclear weapons, it will speed their downfall.

The decision to destroy the human race was made in April of 1947, this is when the “ET” dropped their craft at the only nuclear bombing base on the planet at the time, Roswell, New Mexico home of the 509th nuclear bombing group located at Scott Airfield.

Understanding that we are already supposed to be nuclear waste, only the timely intervention of the “ET” have spared us destruction, it should be easy to see that our nuclear war fighting elite are not really committing war crimes against the human race for our benefit, rather they are merely fattening the wallets of the murdering rich, at our expense.

They are merely warming up for the big one. That is when they finally get an all out nuclear war underway, and they can then kill us all.

The death and destruction of the human race with the use of nuclear weapons, is still on course and if the “ET” should ever stand aside, we all will be nuclear toast the next day.

For the US navy personnel who may read this who are sitting on ships poised to launch a nuclear war against Iran, remember the Idiot in Chief is a Dummy who has been wired for sound by Queenies Sheenies, that is the Zionist Jews, who for the last couple of thousands of years have hoped for this day to wage the battle of Armageddon.

That is where they all hide and we all die. Your officers are trained animals who are already committed to launch a nuclear war.

If the Captain of your ship gives the order to launch a nuclear attack upon Iran, use whatever force is necessary to effectuate a lawful arrest.

Nuclear war is not lawful.

To explain it; the government of the United States of America ended at the moment the decision was made and then put into action to exterminate the very people who it claimed that it was committed to protect.

The Zionist Occupation Government is a criminal enterprise run by a band of genocidal cannibals,and is now under siege at all levels.

They have already ready tried to “Sucker Punch” us with nuclear weapons.

We are near to the end, one way or the other.

Take no orders from this dastardly band of nuclear war fighting genocidal Fiends. Let them fall. We have the crews already in action who can do the clean up of them on the streets.



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By Martin Turnbull USN 59 - 63, honorably discharged., October 13, 2006 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks for your encouragement, Ron. The internal enemies of America would have us believe they have all the power. Well I believe there are more than 47,000,000 Americans who will disagree with them, maybe more. Perhaps the 47,000,000 are why we have all these new homeland security bs laws and rules coming into play. As long as the voting machines are owned by private industry our votes may no longer count. I suspect this will be the last time I vote. - Ron all of us can do our part in this election by dividing our vote to break up the concentration of power. I am voting mid term for a Democrat for the House of Representatives and Republican for the Senate. Where ever possible I will vote to elect women to the House of Representatives. Women will be less willing to see their children killed in a war started with lies or their grand children born with DU deformities. Thanks for being a patriotic American Ron.

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By Touched Reader, October 13, 2006 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
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Such an amazing, moving piece.

Ron, you are an inspiration and a passionate, peaceful warrior. We need more awareness, compassion, love and peace in this small world of ours, and your writing is so eloquently spoken as to bring tears to readers, and our hearts are with you.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world” - Gandhi

THANK YOU. Keep writing, keep speaking!

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By Stefan j. Malecek, Ph. D., CADC II, October 13, 2006 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment
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We met in San Francisco in 1984 in North Beach, then again (1989) at a function with Swords to Plowshares.

Just wanted to say “Right on, brother!” Keep up the good and true work—and “Keep on keepin’ on!”

I am glad that you are still out there, and would like to get in touch. I am now a psychologist and have done a great deal of research on trauma and addictions, following the thread of my own healing—from before and after the war.

Be well, brother. Hope to hear from you soon.

Stefan J. Malecek, Ph. D., CADC II
C/326 Med 101st Airborne Camp Evans, RVN

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By james, October 13, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
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Ron, I am very moved by your eloquent rememberances of things past and present.
I urge you to run for office.
You have put it all out there for all of us and therefore have nothing to hide unlike 99% of the politicians in washington.

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By John Zook, October 13, 2006 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
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I am not a Viet Nam vet, although I grew up watching the despicable spectacle every night on the news. Back then the network news had the independence and the guts to show what was happening and even the balls to at time in their editorials, to call for an end to the war.
Today no such news outlet exists on network or cable news channels except for Freespeech TV and Link Tv. The rest are nothing more than lapdogs for the warmongers.
I very nearly enlisted when I was to graduate in 1969. Remember that year? The monn landing, Woodstock?
I remember hearing my older brother who had just returned fron Nam. He was a chopper pilot and AP mechanic as well, and the things I heard about the dynamics of the war and what the reality was, I began to question the motives of the government and to seek the truth.
I had planned to follow in my brother’s footsteps and volunteer for heli flight school, however my dad had also changed his mind and told me outright he would not sign for me. he did not want me to engage in the dangerous situations combat pilots face, after all he was a nosegunner on a B-24 in the south pacific theater during WWII and new what arial combat was like.
I guess it was after My Lai, I began to really decide I would not support the war. To this day I do not feel as though I commited any treasonous acts but feel even more patriotic for standing up a speaking out.
I felt very sorry for the returning vets who had been greviously wounded in mind and in body and did not agree with those who would label all those as baby killers, although we know this did happen from time to time.
After years of reading books, magazine reports and now online it has become quite clear to me that we are entering wars not for defence but for profit and that is the worst reason of all to kill hundreds of thousands on innocent people and our own men and women for. It is the ultimate in arrogance of those who never served to lie and propagandise the nation into such a costly war to humanity and to our own national wellbeing.
To be silent is to be as guilty as those who have commited this heinous and barbaric act against humanity.
To know that the military industrial complex whom the late Pres. Eisenhour warned us about, is reaping immense profits from the deaths of others is disgusting and shameful. All those who own stock in these industries should immediately dump them.
A friend of mine who also served in Nam as achopper pilot no longer supports the regime in Washington. He like many others are now turning their backs on this administration of lies, deceit and corruption. They are destroying America and care not.
If there is a God, may he be with us and the rest of humanity before it is destroyed.

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By James Loftus, October 13, 2006 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
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To all who protest ,

    Having spent 13 years in the Navy [ 6 with the Marines as a ‘‘DOC’‘] , 2 OF THE 13 in country , let me say this . One can get rankled when you see and hear of the protesting going on in this country today . I for one have bandaged both countrymen and the enemy . I was sad for both , I did feel their pain . I even left my own blood soaking in the earth there . What did I learn that is still with me today ? I was born an American , this is my country, I will protest in my own way , not so the enemy can see , it wasn;t my choice , it was my fate . I didn;t have to enlist , but since I did , I was man enough to see it through . So go ahead and protest , its your right , I stand with you as an American , I just don;t agree with the methods you use .

James ‘‘Doc ‘’ Loftus
HM1 3/5 2dn Marine Division
Fox Company
somewhere in the highlands , South Vietnam

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By Lets wake up, October 13, 2006 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
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Very well done Ron, I am sure Gods graces go with you now. Will you please also research 911 and encourage others to so as well. The facts of that evil day are obvious and all need to take a good look around at what is taking place in America today. God Bless you.

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By Paul, October 13, 2006 at 7:08 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Kovic, it is people like you that are the real patriots that make America great. I just hate the way our brave soldiers are being neo-conned thinking they are protecting America.WHAT A TRAVESTY!

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By arlene gagnon, October 13, 2006 at 6:00 am Link to this comment
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As long as the multitudes remain on the sidelines watching war games as entertainment, evil leaders will continue to wreak chaos, as their right to undermine freedom, for the underpriviledge class.
We need to stop, look, and listen at the results of destruction, instead of being mesmerized by the
political wizardry of Washington’s bag of tricks.
[thank you for sharing the wisdom so many ignore.]

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By John, October 13, 2006 at 5:39 am Link to this comment
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Our country was murdered on September 29, 2006 with the passage of The Military Commissions Act of 2006.  Our Constitution and Bill of Rights trashed.  The generation reading this will know what I mean when I say that history tells us that there is only one way to get them back.

Another Vet

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By singe, October 13, 2006 at 4:54 am Link to this comment
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ron, i grew up a few towns over from you and graduated high school in 65. i think you wrestled a friend of mine. college and luck kept me out of vietnam so i am one of the fortunate ones. other friends and relatives were not so lucky. you are a real hero. i thought the book and movie “born on the fourth” totally captured the time and the way in which young boys are cultured into throwing away their lives to satisify the schemes of old men. now i ( we ) are old men and i do all i can to try to stop the madness, i doubt that i am very effective but i keep trying and you keep inspiring me, be well island boy, there are many of us and we shall overcome.

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By Helene Ducharme, October 12, 2006 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment
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Hey Ron!

I’m writing from Toronto , Canada.
They are playing :“Born of the Fourth of July” currently on our movie network. Each time I see that movie I am moved.

It made me search you out.

Then I came across this article.

Well said, my friend.

I’m hoping that enough of “us” citizens can pull together enough thoughts of peace to make it so!

Thanks for your gifts.


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By Gene Ayres, October 12, 2006 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ron,

Great words from a great patriot. We were introduced years ago at a WGA event in L.A. by our mutual friend Kevin O’Neal, when I was then a fellow screenwriter. I am now working for peace in China, not far from the North Korean border.

I am wondering now how we can retake America from the fascists and criminals who have perpetrated a top to bottom purge of our government, institutions, traditions, and laws. It will be hard. What happened to your fellow patriot in Georgia is a small example, and the very sort of crime we must now be more vigilant than ever against in the coming month. As for my own vote, it was never recorded last time, and my absentee ballot has not been delivered to me this year (could it be because I’m a registered Democrat in a Red State, by which I don’t mean China?). Yet another example of our rights being systematically stripped away. They actually have more rights here now.

Anyway, keep up the good work.


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By Art Durand aka Whitebear, October 12, 2006 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ron,
Thank you for your words.
It is my prayer that those of us who did the deeds in foreign lands find places of healing and renewal.
It is my further prayer that those who sent us out and did not choose to share our experiences be confined singly, each in a room covered with the pictures of the innocents killed.
Let them spend a period of time alone with these images even as similar images haunt our dreams and memories until at last they recognize and take responsibility for the horror they have inflicted upon us all.
Finally, when they have experienced sincere remorse I pray to be allowed to sit in a sweatlodge with these sad, deluded and distorted souls who have caused all to suffer so much.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
Art Durand USN (1959-63)

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By ramie, October 12, 2006 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment
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Since you were born on the 4th, here is a poem for you.


    The occasions increase
    When we must prove
    That we can love.
    The opportunities fall
    All around us
    Like rice
    At a wild wedding.

    Or like strings
    Of lighted firecrackers
    Flacking the dizzy air
    On the Fourth of July.

    These days and nights
    Circumstances are flowering
    Like cancers of the blue bones
    Testing the invisible marrow
    Of being human.

    This test
    Is the last.

**********************  by Ed Stone
Ed Stone was a machine gunner who became a anti-war poet… this was written during the Vietnam War. He died in 1977

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By David Drum, October 12, 2006 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ron,

I couldn’t agree with you more.  You have the heart of a lion, and I too think the American people are brave and willing to fight if necessary, but sometimes fighting isn’t necessary and we ought to oppose that, too.

If it’s not too self-serving, I’d like for you to take a look at a new book that you’ll be in sync with.  I’d like to send you a free copy.  The book is entitled Failure to Atone: The True Story of a Jungle Surgeon in Vietnam, by Allen Hassan, MD, JD, DVM.  Excerpts and infomration at

The book was written by a guy who was a doctor in Vietnam, on a humanitarian program to take care of Vietnamese civilians.  He saw some atrocities and horrible things.  Before he was a doctor, he was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, but became a pacifist after seeing what war does to civilians, mostly children, in Vietnam.  He’s pledged 10% of the profits of the book to children damaged by war.

Please let me send you a copy of this book.  Yours for peace in the world,

David Drum

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By June, October 12, 2006 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ron,

It was so good to read your latest piece and to know you’re are still with us and still speaking out for peace.

I met you in 1994 in San Anselmo in the little cafe where you used to have your morning coffee, and visited you a couple of times in your place in Ross. I still have the autographed copy of your book you gave me. Whenever I get discouraged, after 60 odd years of protest, at age 75 now, I read your book again and it renews my hope.

Belated birthday greetings!


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By Teal Postula, October 12, 2006 at 10:17 am Link to this comment
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I was deeply touched by your eloquent essay. Truth from the heart. As a young woman I horrified my West Pointer Collnel father when I marched against the war in ‘69. He loved me and our country, patiently trying to explain the domino theory to me. I knew that killing was wrong. It has been often said that Vietnam was the FIRST Televised war…it was also the LAST televised war.The manipulations of this administration with Rove-ruthlessness ensure that America is watching American Idol istead of body bags and napalm on the nightly news. voices like yours are absolutely essential in the call to wake us Americans up.We are essentially a good people, but this administration has hijacked our values, and turned them into a marketing ploy to sell their blody,highly profitable agenda. Your voice reminds us to awaken and act! my thanks

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By OldDogLeg, October 12, 2006 at 2:49 am Link to this comment
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I was very lucky in 68 and 69. I actually volunteered so my younger brother, who was a Marine, could come home(he was on his second tour).

I respect, and admire your stance.

I just do not see this country being what it should be. Our generation became all that is wrong with it.

So be it.

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By Nemo, October 11, 2006 at 11:35 pm Link to this comment
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Exceptional. Superb. And, thank you.

You’ve long been an inspiration to me, and your words here are no exception. The time *is* now. The fight *is* needed. And we must resurrect our revolutionary spirit or submit to abject subjugation by a soulless, NeoConNazi Reich And that is a prospect I will never embrace.


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By Marc Madow, October 11, 2006 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment
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Imagine napalm….jellied gasoline being dropped on civilians. Most of us stood mute then. Imagine Fallujah….Most of us stand mute now. Thank you Ron for trying to awaken the sleeping. Some important realizations about war and freedom are shared at;

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By Michael Gilbreath, October 11, 2006 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment
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To Ron, and other vets who have shared here:

Thank you. I can say no more.  Hopefully each day we can each do one small thing to bring the “turning” that John Kerry spoke about into being.  Your voices certainly bear witness to why we must.

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By Tom Johnson, October 11, 2006 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment
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I hadn’t heard of you in a long while. Then this. It’s just amazing. Good to see you rockin and rollin and that you never have stopped doin the work. I’ll get this around ASAP, staring w/ my neighbor across the hall who just had a party for a cousin who’s being shipped off to Baghdad. A relation is scheduled for Kuwait after Christmas. Hope to run into you again in the streets sometime soon. As you say, that’s where we’ll win or lose. Be well.


Tom Johnson

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By Mark E. Smith, October 11, 2006 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you, Ron.

I want to recommend the website of Veterans for 9/11 truth

and my own little article:

I also want to echo those who have urged everyone with a conscience and any sense of decency, to vote only for those with similar values:

Not everyone has the courage to fight for what they care about. Not everyone has the strength to work for what they care about. But if you can’t even vote for what you care about, chances are you don’t really care.

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By zenseeker, October 11, 2006 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
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Thank you Ron for your heart-felt honesty.  I feel your pain and share your loss.  As compassionate Americans, your courage to speak the truth, however painful it maybe, speaks volume to your strength and willingness to face and transcend the past.  We should all look forward and continue to focus on the hard fight ahead.  I’ve been working non-stop putting my site and flash games together.  Try out my latest:  Slap Mark Foley the Ice Cream Man to put some sense into him. I will be making several more down the stretch and would like your opinions on what topic and subject matter I should concentrate on. I have Michelle Malkin, Dennis Hastert in the works and others TBA. email me at zenseeker(a) with your thoughts. Take care and keep up the good fight.
You can play the game and download it here: content/view/567/67/

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By Edward Conley, October 11, 2006 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
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Once again only from the voices of the real patriots does truth come.
I enlisted in the Corps in 1968 at the age of 17, only to find myself in Nam in 69. This only days after Nixon lied to the country and said troops were being pulled out of that hell hole.
I can attest to everything you say and can assure the readers that you only scratched the surface of the terror and animal like conditions you, me and our brother Marines had to endure.
I was one of the lucky ones I suppose. We were over run in October of 1969 and I manage to survive the attack and compared to you suffered minor wounds. A bullet to the right hip, and multiple schrapnel wounds in both legs, head, back, both arms and a traumatic concussion injury to my back.
It is every year at this time that the body wants to remind me that the physical pain I feel daily is tied to the emotional distress and extreme anxiety coupled with it.
All these years after, I still have the deep scars of the terror and needless pain inflicted on my brothers and the hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese.
It saddens and sickens me to see this country once again on the same path of random destruction, hate mongering and chest beating all in the name of some “patriotic” cause.
I pray that the American people wake from this dream before it becomes the worst nightmare ever imagined.
Keep up the fight and know that we are greater in numbers than anyone can ever imagine.
Bless you my brother, and welcome home.

Edward Conley
I Corps RVN
1969 Combat wounded

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By AG, October 11, 2006 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
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Powerful words during trying times (again). Ron Kovic says what we all need to hear. When most soldiers in Iraq think that Saddam was in some way responsible for September 11, there is something terribly wrong with tragic consequences.

There is no peace without justice, and no justice if it is based on lies. The first place to start is the ballot box- don’t vote for anyone who can’t publicly admit the war is wrong, and based on lies and deceit.

http://www.NotOneMore.US  - Take the Pledge for Peace

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By Corby, October 11, 2006 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
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I just wanted to say thanks, Ron.

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By winterfire6, October 11, 2006 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
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Ron, you made me weep.

My brother in arms, both in Nam and in the streets of America, we are going to have to fight. You and I both know that.

It is only a matter of when and how many will jooin us.

God help us, Ron.

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By Ray Koch - Navy Vet ('71-'93), October 11, 2006 at 10:52 am Link to this comment
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A few thoughts:

The 1st taught to me by “Mr. C” in my Garden City, Long Island, NY high school ‘business law’ class(‘67) as a long held legal tenet:


Perhaps not as polished as MLK’s: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” (Apr 4, 1967) ... but anyone with a thinking brain will understand.

The rest from a Frenchman ... gasp!


  * “All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God.”

I’m afraid ‘The Great(?) Decider’ would say “‘taint so! I’VE got a direct line!”

  * “A company of tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions.”

Again, the lie has been put to Voltaire’s words as proven by the downfalls of VP Agnew & his boss RMN, “K” Street & the likes of Jack Abramoff, “Duke Cunningham”, Bob Ney, “PAGE-GATE” ... awww, let’s just say BI-PARTISAN White House, Congressional & Judicial criminality & hypocrisy ad nauseum!

  * “All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

... AND,

  * “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.”

Sadly, history AND current events prove these all too true. 


(hope saying this doesn’t get me tossed into Gitmo! ... been there once for 6 wks of my ship’s REFTRA (refresher training) & once was enuff!

  * “A witty saying proves nothing.”

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By James Charles, October 11, 2006 at 10:48 am Link to this comment
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A powerful message from a powerful writer. Thank you, Ron; parts of your essay made me weep as I sat reading in front of the computer screen.

I also lived through Vietnam and it also changed me from believing the “vision and hope of America” I’d been taught in school. And then I began encountering politicians who lied, statesmen who never took the time to understand the other side, and leaders who “led” for the sole purpose of getting something in return.

Somewhere along the way, America had its bearings, its moral compass, its great ideals and idealism stolen. We no longer act like a young, generous nation trying to help the world; instead, we act like an angry old man who uses his cane to beat on anyone who disagrees with him.

It was “the best and the brightest” who created the mess that was Vietnam and its terrible aftermath—both in country and at gome. Now, it is the “dumb and dumber” crowd who are unraveling the last threads of the American republic and American democracy.

We are sewing what we have reaped.

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By jackie T. Gabel, October 11, 2006 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
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RE: “Have we become so paralyzed by the eleventh of September ...How many more terrorist attacks…break the silence of this shameful night?”

Don’t let them do this again, to set the pretext for Iran. Mr. Kovic, please, lend your strong and righteous voice to 911Truth, the only issue powerful enough to bring down this regime of madmen!

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By Stephen Fournier, October 11, 2006 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
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The compulsion to dissent comes on you like an illess.  You can’t overcome it or shrug it off.  The more you know—and you learn a lot just from having to put on a uniform every day—the stronger the compulsion.  Dissenting vets are courageous, but they are bound to do what they do, not by orders from others but by orders from within.  A good soldier is a soldier for life.

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By Causbrook, October 11, 2006 at 9:56 am Link to this comment
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Very moving. Ron, I’m 10 years older than you, was married with small children during the terrible Vietnam war times. I protested more quietly—with like-thinking Unitarians, the group “Another Mother for Peace” and most importantly—by instilling in my children the horrors and injustice of war. I’m so proud of them today for their opposition to this war and to their continuing our values for their children. Remember the song from “South Pacific”: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught”!

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By Mad as Hell, October 11, 2006 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
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I well remember Ron Kovic and Bob Muller on the talk shows in the early 70’s.  I remember the demonstrations, and the lies from Johnson and Nixon—and Kissinger.  The Viet Nam vets who stood up against what was wrong were and are heros.

But…The riots in Chicago in 1968 were at the DEMOCRATIC Convention. Mayor Richard Daley had his cops beating on the demonstrators, and Sen. Abe Ribicoff stood before the Convention and said “With George McGovern as President we won’t have Gestapo Tactics on the streets of Chicago.”  Mayor Daley’s response wasn’t broadcast aloud, but it wasn’t hard to read his lips: “Fuck You!”.

The Republican Convention had been in Miami—there was even a book about it: “Miami and The Seige of Chicago”.

Then there were the WONDERFUL debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley every night: “Now Bill, don’t stick your tongue out at me!”

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By Lee driver, October 11, 2006 at 7:49 am Link to this comment
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There’s an elephant in the room. The emperor has no clothes. Pandoras box is open. Golem has the reins, Uncle Sam the smoking gun. Ben Franklin has turned over in his grave. It’s not Kansas anymore.

Frodo’s left the Shire.

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By John Earl, October 11, 2006 at 6:59 am Link to this comment
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Ron has a message. It was born from hellish circumstances. It must be a true nightmare for him to see history repeating itself.

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By Chris Townsend, October 11, 2006 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
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Both Ron Kovic and Ron Ranft are the true heros today.  We need more brave men and women to show the silent masses the light of Truth and stir their dismay to action… to a loud roar of protest against the evil being committed in the name of America, in the name of us all.

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By Roger Drowne EC, October 11, 2006 at 3:05 am Link to this comment
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Hello Ron…

Thanks 4 All your works..

Ck this out…

Earth Ball Abodes can help House VETs

Anywhere / 4 small $$$

Wheel chair friendly… You Could Move to New Orleans for a bit and live on the beach… Help them build NEW 1500 E.C. Artist Village… Ck with the Mayor of N.O.

Peace… Roger Hawes Drowne EC

anyway… see how/to at…

Again Thank U, another Vet… 1959 - 63

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By J.DURAN, October 10, 2006 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment
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VERY POWERFUL AND DEEP,it all has to be said,the reality is in this message america.

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By Ron Ranft, October 10, 2006 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment
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I am just a Handyman. I have no titles in front of, nor letters following my name. I have never been a fellow, distinguished or other wise from some institute with a high falutin’ name containing the words Patriotic or Democratic. I do not get paid to think about things, I get paid to fix things that people need to work. But I once participated willingly in an unjust and unnecessary war just like Iraq. I never, to my knowledge, killed anyone tho I lied for years about it. I did so before I knew better. I did so in order to cover the shame I felt for not having done that which I felt was my job to do. But I suffered the stress and the nightmares of flying with death sitting besides me. It still does not take much to bring them back. Just as Viet Nam and what is happening there was without just cause, so is Iraq. And all the promises made to the people of Afghanistan to bring peace and prosperity have fallen away like last winters’ wheat stalks. They were made on sand blown in the wind and the people see our country for what it has become.
  I wish I had the eloquence to make people sit up and take notice of what has happened to us. We are like Ulysses’ crew, drugged and dreaming of a place that isn’t anymore. We have grown all too comfortable eating and drinking the fruits of other peoples labor and if we do not wake up soon, we will not wake up at all.
  I write this because a young friend of mine has been informed that he will be returned to Iraq in March. I can still remember the feelings I had when a ship from my company would be listed on the board as missing. I can still remember my sorrow at the memorials for other downed crewmen even if I cannot remember their faces or their names. I do not want to hear that my friend Staff Sergeant Dustin Shepherd is not coming home to his family and friends. It will be such a waste of a good human for such a needless cause. I am too old to have the remembrances of young peoples faces and names on my mind. What follows is a recollection of someone who has carried the scars and the battle of the war we both fought in with greater fortitude than I ever could have. Please take the time to read it. Pass it on to everyone you know. Even if you think they might not like it or agree with it we must do everything we can to put an end to the senseless bloodshed. What is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and I am sure that given have a chance it will be in Iran, must come to an immediate stop. Each and everyone of us is diminished by what we have allowed our leaders to do in the name of all of us.

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By paul kibble, October 10, 2006 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks, Ron, for these brave and stirring words.

“When will we end this silence?”


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