April 27, 2009
Born on the Fourth of July
Analysis of Ron Kovic’s Autobiography
Some of the most popular pictures are those of soldiers running up to their families right after getting off of the plane from a tour of duty, crying, and thankful that they are back home and safe. But how many of us actually care about those soldiers beyond knowing that they are home and safe? Ron Kovic’s autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July, is out to prove that going through a war has an affect beyond what most of the population sees; there are life-long effects, especially for those who come back injured and maimed. Every aspect of Ron Kovic’s life changed when he came back from the war and couldn’t move over half of his body and, for the most part, he had to deal with all of these changes on his own.
On a larger scale, the world around him changes greatly from the time that he leaves for the war until the time he returns home after his stay in the hospital. When Ron leaves for the war, he has the love and support from his family, most of his friends, and his hometown. America is still really confident in the Vietnam War and they still have faith that they are fighting for a good reason and will come out of it with a victory. During his childhood it’s very similar, everyone is happy, life is good, life is simple; Ron and his friends only have to worry about what to do in the summer. However, when Ron returns home from the war, life is very different. He doesn’t realize it at first, but everything has changed. He knows from his time in the hospital that support for the war is waning, but it isn’t until he goes home and is face to face with the lack of support that he fully understands the extent of it. When he is first greeted by his family and they are so happy to have him back, and all of his neighbors gather around him he believes that they are supporting him fully and that they still believe in the war. While riding in a car at the Fourth of July parade, Ron can see on the faces of all the people watching that they don’t support the war and, in effect, don’t support the soldiers. When the story closes, it seems as though complete chaos has broken out. There are peace movements that turn into full on riots; there is almost no support for the war because Americans recognize that there will not be a win in this war. Students on college campuses are being beaten and killed by the police for calm, quiet, peace movements. America changed from being a peaceful country where people got along and supported the government’s actions to being in chaos and having no peace and support when it was needed most.
This autobiography leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to Ron Kovic’s feelings, thoughts, actions and reactions as they are affected by the war. Ron Kovic published this novel for this very reason. He wanted the general public to know, to feel, to realize just how much the war has an effect on the soldiers that give themselves for this country. The reason for why he started writing the novel in the first place was just slightly different. He had all of these built up emotions that he couldn’t express to very many people because they just wouldn’t understand, so he began typing. He wrote and wrote to drain himself of the excess emotion that his direct peers would never understand. Now, he has this “timeless war classic” that gives everyone a front row seat to how he and other soldiers think and feel. The men and women that fight for this country cannot just get off of a plane from a different country and enter into society as if nothing happened. There are long and short term mental and emotional effects that have to be dealt with, and Ron Kovic reminds the public of this fact with his autobiography.
Even though the Vietnam War wasn’t a true war, the experiences that Ron Kovic had to deal with make it a “timeless war classic.” Any soldier that returns from war is faced with similar...