Ron Kovic was born on July 4, 1946, in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. In 1969, he was paralyzed while fighting inthe Vietnam War. Once home, he stayed in veteran hospitals where conditions were poor, and sought an outlet for his outrage in activism. In 1976, he published Born on the Fourth of July. A film of same title, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise as Kovic, was released in 1989. Kovic continues to fight against war and in support of veterans’ rights.
Kovic received the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay on January 20, 1990, exactly 22 years to the day after he was wounded in Vietnam. Ron Kovic was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “Shut Out the Light” after reading Kovic’s memoir and then meeting him. Tom Paxton, the folk singer/political activist, wrote the song “Born on the Fourth of July“, which is on his New Songs from the Briarpatch album. Academy Award winning actress Jane Fonda has stated that Ron Kovic’s story was the inspiration for her film Coming Home.