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Literature: Born on the Fourth of July

Ron Kovic: They burned the flag and they demonstrated against us; it's on the cover of the paper today. They have no respect. They have no idea what's going on over there, Mom - the men that are sacrificing their lives. People are dying every day over there, and nobody back here even seems to care. It's a bunch of goddamn shit if you ask me!
Mrs. Kovic: Ronnie, don't take the Lord's name in vain - not in front of the children. I agree with everything you say!
Ron Kovic: I served my country - and they just want to take from it - just take, take! Love it or leave it, that's what I think.

The autobiography of Vietnam War Vet. Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July was published in 1976. In 1989, the film version directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise as Kovic was released. Stone won his second Oscar as director, his third overall, and Cruise got his first Oscar nomination. This is also his second film about The Vietnam War, following Platoon and followed by Heaven And Earth. These three films are often said to form a "trilogy", although they merely share subject matter and do not take place in a shared continuity.

Ron Kovic, a young man from Long Island, goes off to fight in Vietnam. During his second tour of duty, Kovic accidentally kills a fellow soldier, Private Wilson, which deeply scars him emotionally. During a firefight, Kovic is permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Once he is discharged, Kovic comes home a changed man. He feels that his country hasn't done much of anything to help his fellow Vietnam veterans. Subsequently, he joins the anti-war movement. And goes to Mexico.

Needs Wiki Magic Love.


This work features examples of:

  • Author Tract: Probably Oliver Stone's most preachy film.
  • California Doubling: Like Apocalypse Now and Platoon, scenes in Vietnam were actually shot in the Philippines due to the political climate.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Lots of them. There are a couple of scenes where that's almost the entire dialogue.
  • Every Helicopter Is A Huey
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted; Kovic tries to have sex after his tours of duty, but even with a prostitute, he can't enjoy the experience.
  • Returning War Vet: Ron Kovic.
  • Semper Fi: Averted. Ron believes the Marines to be this when he enlists. Beginning with the Private Wilson incident, and the X/O refusing to help him cope with it, he realizes it's anything but.
  • Significant Birth Date: Ron Kovic was born on July 4th, 1946; hence, the title of the book and film.
  • Strawman Political: Thankfully averted, for both ends of the spectrum.
  • The Merch: Deconstructed, as the film ended up inspiring unofficially merchandise in the form of "Ron Kovic" Halloween costumes and an unofficial (in terms of not getting the license for the actor's appearance) adult collectible 1/6th scale action figure of Tom Berenger from the film, as Berenger has a single scene in the film where he gives a recruitment speech for the Marines in dress blues at the start of the film.
  • The Vietnam War
  • War Is Hell: Very much so.


The Book of MerlynLiterature of the 1970sThe Boys from Brazil
BloodfistFilms of the 1980sThe Burbs
Black Hawk DownMilitary and Warfare FilmsThe Bridge on the River Kwai
Born In East L.A.Needs Wiki Magic LoveBorscht Belt

alternative title(s): Born On The Fourth Of July; Born On The Fourth Of July
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