Ron Kovic, literally “Born on the Fourth of July,” author of his classic anti-war memoir and subject of the Oliver Stone film based on the book, marks the day of patriotic zealotry with dread. Kovic was inspired to enlist as a US marine and fight in Vietnam, answering President John F. Kennedy’s call to serve country before self. The result failed both the country and the young marine, who was severely wounded in action in a war that he believes betrayed the nation’s stated ideals and left him a paraplegic, bound for a half century to his wheelchair but freeing his voice to speak as clearly as anyone on the dark folly of war.
It's a folly that has suddenly reasserted itself in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and NATO expansion with a dangerous fury matching the most frightening events of the Cold War and carrying an even greater prospect of a nuclear war that would end life on this planet. Most alarming is that the worldwide peace movement that Kovic came to embody and which he vigorously attempts to rally is almost non-existent.
That collapse of the peace movement is an alarming development to Kovic and Scheer who covered the Vietnam War as a correspondent and has known Kovic since the two of them met 52 years ago in the Los Angeles Veterans Cemetery following an anti-war demonstration. In the following interview, they are joined by writer TerriAnn Ferren who has been Kovic’s closest friend and most reliable supporter during the last 16 years of his strenuous and often medically fraught effort to bring a message of peace to a world that seems ever more in denial about the terminal destructiveness of war.