Marina Del Rey, Argonaut.
What’s On Feature
Nov. 8, 2002
Vet activist Kovic renews call for peace, no war against Iraq
BY RAHNE PISTOR
Recent overtures to United States military actions in Iraq have served to refuel the nation’s anti-war movement. Stalwart war protesters have begun to resurface and publicly denounce military actions.
Now, Ron Kovic, a former U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant paralyzed during combat in Vietnam, who later became a figurehead of the American anti-war movement, plans to lead a Veteran’s Day teach-in against war with Iraq at 7 p.m. Monday, November 11th, at Mani’s Bakery, 2507 Main St., Santa Monica. Admission is free.
Kovic was the subject of the Academy Award-winning film Born on the Fourth of July, directed by Oliver Stone. The film, released in 1991, is based on Kovic’s autobiography of the same name, published in 1976. Kovic wrote the book while living in Santa Monica.
On January 20th, 1968, during his second tour of duty in Vietnam, Kovic was shot, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since and has never regained use of his legs.
Upon returning home from Vietnam, Kovic found the treatment he and other war veterans received from Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals appalling.
Currently, Kovic is combing through the Los Angeles area participating in the Coffee House Teach-In Project, a series of anti-war lectures and gatherings financed by the Venice United Methodist Church.
Disillusioned and enraged in the aftermath of his military experiences, Kovic became an avid anti-war protester at the height of the Vietnam War.
He chose to channel his rage into activism. He spoke out against poor conditions in VA hospitals and later protested U.S. support of the authoritarian government of El Salvador in the 1980s.
He managed to disrupt Nixon’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 1972. His antics earned him a two-minute on-camera interview with CBS correspondent Roger Mudd.
“I’m a Vietnam veteran,” he said. “I gave America my all, and the leaders of this government threw me and others away to rot in VA hospitals. What’s happening in Vietnam is a crime against humanity.”
In 1976, Kovic made another appearance with a U.S. president. This time he was invited. At the Democratic National Convention during Jimmy Carter’s nomination Kovic spoke about the hell he experienced in Vietnam.
He began by reading a poem:
I am the living death
The Memorial Day on wheels
I am your Yankee Doodle Dandy
Your John Wayne come home
Your Fourth of July firecracker
Exploding in the grave.
Kovic feels that military attacks are “awful waste” and “deep immorality,” he wrote.
He cites Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi as his inspirations.
“Those of us who have found that love and forgiveness are more powerful than hatred are not being heard,” wrote Kovic on September 14th last year, in opposition to military retribution for the September 11th attacks.
He has also criticized the glamorization of war in popular culture, which he sees as war mongering propaganda that makes young people lust for war.
Kovic himself says he was raised and influenced by the films of John Wayne and movies like The Sands of Iwo Jima and To Hell and Back.
He joined the marines in 1964 to fight for his country and try to make something of his life.
Nowadays, he views U.S. military action as the cause of terror.
At an anti-war rally in San Francisco on Saturday, October 26th, Kovic stressed his opposition to the Bush administration’s current war drive.
“The leaders, the president, those in power right now, who have in fact made targets of terror of all of us because of their policy, they are the ones who have brought on 9/11,” said Kovic. “It is their violence that brought the violence to our nation, and it’s their violence that we must stop and stop forever.”
Andrew Kay Liberman, an organizer of the local teach-in planned at Mani’s, is trying to spread the anti-war sentiment locally.
“We’re trying to help build the peace movement,” he says. “Every day that the war doesn’t take place, the movement is building.”
Along with speakers, the teach-in will feature live music, poetry and “guerrilla theater” Ã¢â‚¬â€œ street theater with a political target.
Holding the teach-in on Veteran’s Day is highly significant, as Americans have much to think about, says Liberman.
“I want people to stop and reflect on the death war has caused Americans, and the death incurred on foreigners. The expense of war, in both dollars and lives, is too great.”
Besides, most Americans are unclear what the push for war with Iraq is even about, says Liberman.
“There’s a mass blur. Some people think its about weapons inspection. Others think its about 9/11. It’s not. It’s really partly about oil.”
Admission to the teach-in is free, but reservations are suggested to assure available seating.
Reservations, (310) 203-1542
Reflecting the Concerns of the Community
November 6 – 12, 2002 Vol. 4, Issue 21
Santa Monica Mirror
Friday, November 8, 2002
Coffee House Teach-Ins Continue
Celebrated author and anti-war activist Ron Kovic, the central figure in the film, Born On the Fourth of July, will speak at the third event sponsored by the Coffee House Teach-In Project.
It’s scheduled for Monday night, November 11, Veteran’s Day, at Mani’s Bakery, 2507 Main Street in Santa Monica.
Also on the Monday roster are people who have recently visited in Iraq, and organizer Eisha Mason, of the Center for the Advancement of Non-Violence. In addition, Stephen Fiske will sing some of his new songs for peace and stage some guerilla theater dramatizing the threats Americans face at home while the nation fights wars overseas.
Coffee House Teach-Ins, a new non-profit project of the Venice United Methodist Church, are designed to inform people about the impending U.S. war on Iraq and encourage them to oppose it.
The idea of organizing at coffee houses is based on the the successes of the Vietnam era anti-war movement.
“While public protest is important,” says coordinator Andrew Kay Liberman, “We need to talk amongst ourselves and show people, ourselves, and the world what kind of world we want Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in addition to what kind of world we don’t want. The teach-ins are a place to explore the possibilites for this very world without war, and what we can use American resources for in place of initiating violence.”
It was standing room only at the first two Coffee House Teach Ins. Monday’s event is free, but requires reservation, call (310) 203 1542, as seating is limited.
The next scheduled teach-in will be held at Cafe Future, 1314 La Brea Avenue in Inglewood, on Friday night, December 6, from 7 to 10 p.m.
According to Liberman, the Project is seeking other venues at which to hold events, offering involvement opportunities and offering speakers from a developing speakers bureau.
For more information, visit www.stopUSwars.org