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Ron Kovic and Tomas Young

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Ron Kovic, the real life guy whose story was the basis for Born On the Fourth of July, attended the LA opening of Body of War. The event was sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of America.

After the credits, Kovic wheeled to the front of the theatre and gave a spontaneous speech. It was one of those documentary moments that live forever. Here it is:

That film is going to move people all over this country .

It's going to inspire people all across our country to step over that line and to speak in a way that they've never spoken before.

Remember it was Martin Luther King who once said

A time comes when silence is betrayal...

A time comes when silence is betrayal...

We're not going to be silent anymore in this country.
Because of heroic people like Tomas Young.
Tomas Young, a hero.

As I watched this film tonight, I think back over the last forty years. On January twentieth of this year, I celebrated my fortieth anniversary of having been shot and wounded in Vietnam on January twentieth 1968. So it's been four decades that I've been in this wheelchair. I'm grateful to be alive.

My friend Bobby Muller is in this film. We were in the Bronx Veterans Hospital together. Overcrowded, understaffed, rats on the ward, a virtual hospital slum! Our government back then in 1968 could spend millions and millions of dollars on that war in Vietnam in that senseless war in Vietnam but could not even care for those who came home wounded -- just like Tomas Young.

I see Tomas Young's struggle and I think of those early days in Massepequa in my home town. I think of my mother and my father who are now gone. I think of what my mom and dad went through.

Is this country going to wake up? Is this country going to recognize the sacrifices young men like Tomas are making? All over this country, what we have to live with...do they think about this, when they make the decision to go to war? I'm so grateful to still be alive, so many of my friends with similar injuries are no longer alive. I'm so grateful to be able to speak on behalf of peace and non-violence. That war changed my life, this injury changed my life.

And Tomas Young, give him your support, give him your love, give your love and support to every young man and woman who comes home from this war. We support our troops, but we want our troops home now! we want them home now and not later!

We don't want any more paraplegics, we don't want anymore amputees, this war's not worth it, this war is wrong it is immoral, deeply immoral. it is hurting our country. it's not stopping terrorism, it's creating more terrorists.

Tomas Young is my hero.

Bring the troops home now.

God bless all of you.

Keep fighting for peace.

Thank you very much.


- Ron Kovic, April 25, 2008