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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review: Ron Kovic Remembers 1974 Protest for Veterans' Rights

By Lyn Jensen
"You can't really respect and honor [America's Vietnam] veterans without acknowledging they were leaders of the antiwar movement." -- Tom Hayden
Ron Kovic remains perhaps the most famous face of the movement for veterans’ rights. In the early seventies he galvanized the peace movement, both as an anti-Vietnam activist and as the author of Born on the Fourth of July. That book, a searing account of one paralyzed veteran’s shattered illusions turning to activism, has become an American classic. It was even turned into an Oscar-nominated film in 1989, starring Tom Cruise as Kovic.
Today veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are complaining about the level of care they receive, and that makes Kovic’s experience freshly relevant. In particular what fueled Kovic’s transformation were the conditions he and many other disabled veterans encountered at the Long Beach Veterans Administration. Believing that the level of care amounted to patient abuse, Kovic organized more than a dozen of his fellow patients. Unable to create change within the system, they resorted to what might now be called “occupy tactics.”
On Feb. 12, 1974, Kovic and fourteen other disabled veterans (along with some supporters including two women) arrived for a meeting at then-senator Alan Cranston’s office at the Westwood Federal Building. Finding the senator absent, they refused to leave, or even eat, until the head of the VA (at the time, Donald Johnson) met with them personally and heard their grievances. The occupation of Cranston’s office ended on March 2, 1974, after then-president Richard Nixon sent Johnson to meet with them.
Now Kovic has written a book, Hurricane Street, about the protest and its aftermath. Like its author, the book was born on the fourth of July, published by Akashic Books on that date this year.
Hurricane describes how Kovic originally planned the protest to be the first action of a new American Veterans Movement, which he organized from his residence on Hurricane Street in Marina Del Rey. The next step was to be a veterans’ march on Washington on July 4, 1974, envisioned to rival or surpass both the 1964 King March and the protests that vets staged in Washington during the Depression.
The planned march on Washington ended in failure when other veterans’ groups refused to participate. Days later, Kovic was kicked out of his own organization (he suspects outside influences) and the movement disbanded.

At the age of 70 and still living in the South Bay, Kovic remains a patient of the Long Beach VA, where the reforms he demanded in 1974 have resulted in much higher standards of patient care. 


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