Veteran and Anti-War Activist Ron Kovic in His Own Words (Photos)
Editor’s note: This photo essay on Ron Kovic, by Zuade Kaufman, was originally posted by Truthdig in 2005.
Ron Kovic, a longtime contributor to Truthdig and a recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, has written voluminously about his experiences as a Marine in the Vietnam War. A spinal cord wound in combat in 1968 paralyzed him from the chest down. Since, he has become an outspoken anti-war activist and an advocate for peace. In a conversation with Truthdig he said, “Joining the peace movement has given me a very important direction in my life, and I’ve committed my life to doing all that I can to move my country in a more positive direction, away from war and toward a more peaceful and cooperative way of solving its problems and difficulties.”
Kovic said war gave him the gift of a personal awakening. “I became a messenger, a living symbol, and example. A man who learned that love and forgiveness are more powerful than hatred. I’ve learned to forgive my enemies and forgive myself.”
Kovic’s potent love for the nation despite its violence, which he condemns, serves as a model for progressive patriots. “I often dream of moving to neutral ground, to another country,” he told Truthdig. “Yet I have somehow made a certain peace even in a nation that so often seems to believe in war and the use of violence as a solution to its problems. There has been a reckoning, a renewal. The scar will always be there, a living reminder of that war [Vietnam], but it has also become something beautiful now, a thing of faith and hope and love.”
Kovic also shared his poem, “At the Beginning of War on the Fourth of July,” which he wrote in 1977:
I am the living death/ the memorial day on wheels/ I am your Yankee Doodle dandy/ your John Wayne come home/ your fourth of July firecracker/ exploding in the grave.
Kovic’s writing for Truthdig highlights his valor and courage in his anti-violence activism and his fearless advocacy for veterans: