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Ron Kovic's Born on the 4th of July

The backgrounds and experiences of Ron Kovic, as recounted in his book Born on the Fourth of July, and Anne Moody, told in her book Coming of Age in Mississippi, are quite different, yet both are radicalized as they find gaps in American society and in the failure of that society to deliver on its promises to its citizens.

Ron Kovic grew up in Massapequa, New York, a while boy in a white neighborhood in the 1950s, an era looked back on with nostalgia by many, including Kovic himself. His father was a checker in a supermarket. Kovic remembers trips to the city, movies he saw, the thrill of hearing about early space explorations, and other events of the 1950s and early 1960s. Kovic's story divides around his own physical state -- his childhood was a time of athletics, while much later he is bound to a wheelchair. The dividing point is the War in Vietnam. As a youngster, Kovic had dreams of self-improvement, noting that he did not want to be like his father: "I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to make something out of my life" (Kovic 73). Kovic joins the Marines, eager to fight for his country, so imbued with patriotic fervor that he stands for "The Star-Spangled Banner" after the late movie on his last night as a civilian.

Kovic tells his own story, but his time in the Marines and in Vietnam is told in the third person, as if he were watching someone else live this portion of his life. The War in Vietnam was a war which more than any before took place in two places at once -- on the battlefield and in the American home by way of television. A related front developed with the growing opposition to the war, manifested in the streets by demonstrations. The opposition to the war could be traced back to the late 1960s. There were really two levels to the tensions of the 1960s, one politically and socially directed toward effecting major changes and toward improving American life according to the tenets of the movement invo...

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Ron Kovic's Born on the 4th of July. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:34, November 30, 2021, from