Born on the Fourth of July (film)

1989 film directed by Oliver Stone
(Redirected from Born on the Fourth of July)

Born on the Fourth of July is a 1989 film about Ron Kovic, who after being paralyzed in the Vietnam war and feeling betrayed by the country he fought for, becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist.

Directed by Oliver Stone. Written by Ron Kovic and Oliver Stone, based on Kovic's best selling autobiography of the same name.
A story of innocence lost and courage found.

Ron Kovic

  • I want a woman, Dad. I want somebody to love me. I wanna to be free again. I wanna walk in the backyard on the grass. I wanna put my bare feet in the ocean. I wanna run along the sand and feel it on my feet. I wanna stand up in the shower with the hot water streaming down my legs, in the morning... I wanna explode, Dad. I wanna get out of this fucking body I'm in. I wanna be a man again...I just wanna be a man again.
  • [to a news camera, outside the 1972 Republican Convention] I'm here tonight to say that this war is wrong, that this society lied to me, lied to my brothers. They've deceived the people of this country, tricked them into going 13,000 miles to fight a war against a poor, peasant people who have a proud history of resistance, who have been struggling for their own independence for 1,000 years - the Vietnamese people. I can't find the words to express, and the leadership of this government sickens me. People say that if you don't love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America. We love the people of America very much, but when it comes to the government, it stops right there. The government is a bunch of corrupt thieves, they are rapists and robbers. And we are here to say that we don't have to take it anymore. We are here to say that we are here to tell the truth; they are killing our brothers in Vietnam! We want them to hear the truth tonight!
  • People say that if you don't love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America.
  • It's my leg! I want my leg, you understand? Can't you understand that? All's I'm sayin' is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!
  • [to Charlie] I had a mother; I had a father, things - things that made sense. Do you remember things that made sense? Things you could count on? Before we all got so lost? What are we gonna do, Charlie? What am I gonna do?


  • Marine Sergeant: [to high school boys] Not everybody can become United States Marines. We want the best and we settle for nothing but the best because there is nothing prouder, nothing finer, nothing standing as straight as a United States Marine. Now they got the Air Force, they got the Navy, they got the Army, they got the Coast Guard - and if you want to join them, go ahead. They got plenty of room. But if you want a challenge, if you want to try something difficult, try to achieve the impossible - try 13 weeks of hell at Parris Island, South Carolina and find out if you got what it takes, find out if you really are a man, then the Marines might be what you are looking for. Tarawa... Iwo Jima... Belleau Wood...the frozen Chosin Reservoir. First to fight, we have never lost a war. We have always come when our country has called.
  • Willie: I'm serious, man, you gotta read some books. There's a revolution going on, Kovic. Brothers are gettin' it together, and if you ain't part of the solution, man, then you're part of the problem.
  • Lieutenant: [to Ron] It wasn't your fault, goddamn it! They got in the goddamn way!
  • Charlie: [to Ron] The bitch thinks it's funny I can't move my dick!


Ron Kovic: Why did the Russians beat us into space, Dad?
Mr. Kovic: Well, the Russians, they don't even bother feeding their people. They put all their money into weapons and things like that.
Ron Kovic: But we're supposed to be the best, right, Dad?
Mr. Kovic: You bet we are, but we've been pretty stupid too. We put the Russians back on their feet after World War II and they took Hungary, Poland, half of Europe - and they still want more.
Mrs. Kovic: Communism is an insidious evil, Ronnie. They don't believe in God and if we don't watch out, they're gonna take over this country someday.
Ron Kovic: But don't people know? Why don't we stop them? We're supposed to be the best. We can't let them take over our country, Dad, what's wrong?
Mr. Kovic: Well, people are scared of 'em... I think everybody's scared of 'em these days.
Ron Kovic: I'm not. I'm not scared of 'em! I hate the Communists. I really hate them. We're gonna come back and beat them someday.

Mrs. Kovic: [entering Ron's room, beaming] Ronnie, Ronnie, you're doing the right thing! Communism has to be stopped! It's God's will that you go, and I'm proud of you. [gently pats his shoulder] Just be careful, that's all.
Ron Kovic: Don't you know what it means to me to be a Marine, Dad? Ever since I was a kid I've wanted this - I've wanted to serve my country - and I want to go. I want to go to Vietnam - and I'll die there if I have to.

Chaplain: How are you?
Ron Kovic: [weakly] Tell them - they have to operate on me. There's something wrong with me.
Chaplain: The doctors are real busy right now. There's a lot of wounded here today. No time for anything except trying to stay alive, so you got to try and stay alive, okay? You hear me? Try and stay alive. [pause] I've come to give you your last rites. Are you ready?
Ron Kovic: [weakly] Yeah.
Chaplain: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. You brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that you will take nothing out of it. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Doctor: We want to make one thing very clear to you, Ron. The possibility of your ever walking again is minimal... almost impossible. You're a T6 - paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Probably... you'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. [pause] Do you understand what I'm saying?
Ron Kovic: Well, doctor...
Doctor: Hmm?
Ron Kovic: Doctor, will I ever be able to - to have children?
Doctor: No. [pause] No, but we have a good psychologist. He's helped a lot of people.
Ron Kovic: I'll walk again.
Doctor: No you won't...
Ron Kovic: No, I know I'll walk again!
Doctor: No, let me tell you something, Ron. You will never walk again.

Ron Kovic: Washington?! Washington! [Washington arrives]I've been laying in my own shit for the last three hours. I've been pushing my call button and nobody comes. Why can't I have a bath? Why can't the sheets be changed in this goddamn place? Why can't the vomit be wiped off the goddamn floor once in a while?
Nurse Washington: Don't you raise your voice to me Mr. Kovic, you watch your mouth.
Ron Kovic: Look at my leg. It's twice as big as it ever was. When are you people gonna help me? Where's the doctor? I need to see the doctor- I need to see him now!
Nurse Washington: He's not available now. He's too busy.
Ron Kovic: He's always too busy.
Marvin: What's eating you now, Kovic? You going off the deep end?
Ron Kovic: [grabbing Marvin] Fucking shit! What do I have to do to make you people listen to me? I wanna be treated like a fucking human being! [slaps the valium hypodermic out of the nurse's hand] I don't want this fucking shit! You wanna keep me drugged all the time so I don't know what's going on. This place is a fuckin' slum!
Marvin: You want out of here, man? Fine. We take that leg of yours, and we can get you out of here in two weeks!
Ron Kovic: I want my leg.
Marvin: Why?
Ron Kovic: I want my leg!
Marvin: Why? You can't feel it no how!
Ron Kovic: [incredulous and angry] It's my leg! I want my leg, you understand? Can't you understand that? All's I'm sayin' is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!
Patient: [off-camera] Shut the fuck up!
Ron Kovic: And I think that I deserve to be treated...d- decent!
Marvin: Vietnam? Vietnam don't mean nothing to me man, or any of these other people. You can take your Vietnam and shove it up your ass.

Ron Kovic: [attempting to walk in the hospital] Am I good? Hey, [drags himself forward] am I good?
Willie: Man, you're one crazy Marine, Kovic - so gung-ho and everything, but you don't know shit about what's really happenin' in this country.
Ron Kovic: Fuck you, Willie.
Willie: I'm serious man. It ain't about burnin' the flag and Vietnam, man. While we fight for rights over there, we ain't got no rights at home. It's about Detroit and Newark, man. It's about racism, man.
Ron Kovic: Is that right?
Willie: Because you can't get no job at home. Vietnam is a white man's war, a rich man's war.
Ron Kovic: [contemptuously] Where's my money?
Willie: I'm serious, man, you gotta read some books. There's a revolution going on, Kovic. Brothers are gettin' it together, and if you ain't part of the solution, man, then you're part of the problem.

Ron Kovic: They burned the flag and they demonstrated against us; it's on the cover of the paper today. They have no respect. They have no idea what's going on over there, Mom - the men that are sacrificing their lives. People are dying every day over there, and nobody back here even seems to care. It's a bunch of goddamn shit if you ask me!
Mrs. Kovic: Ronnie, don't take the Lord's name in vain - not in front of the children. I agree with everything you say!
Ron Kovic: I served my country - and they just want to take from it - just take, take! Love it or leave it, that's what I think.

Steve Boyer: You could start out as a cashier... and then work your way up to becoming a manager of one of these places - just like your dad.
Ron Kovic: I get $1700 a month from the government. I think I'm just going to lay low, and look around...
Steve Boyer: [dismissively] That's charity money, Ronnie; this isn't.
Ron Kovic: Charity?
Steve Boyer: All I'm saying is that you got to - you got to put the war behind you, you know; you got to forget about this chair you're in!
Ron Kovic: [leans forward] Sometimes, Stevie, I think people, they know you're back from Vietnam, and their face - changes: the eyes, the voice, the way they look at you, you know.
Steve Boyer: I know what you mean, Ronnie, but people here - they don't give a shit about the war! Yeah! To them it's just a million miles away. It's all bullshit, anyway. I mean, the government sold us a bill of goods and we bought it, and got the shit kicked out of us, and for what, huh?
Ron Kovic: What do you mean, "we," Stevie? You were in college, man.
Steve Boyer: [shrugs his shoulders] You bought that Communist bullshit, Ronnie. Yeah, they were going to take over the world, you remember that? Fenelli, you, Walsh - the whole town was devastated. [pause] For what? For lies, for bullshit lies?

Ron Kovic: When I was in the hospital, I thought, "Yeah, this makes sense."
Timmy Burns: What makes sense?
Ron Kovic: Because I failed, Timmy.
Timmy Burns: What are you talking about?
Ron Kovic: Because I - I killed some - people; I made some terrible - mistakes!
Timmy Burns: Oh, for Christ's sake, Ronnie, we all made mistakes. I mean, you - you had no choice. That's something that those goddamn pansy demonstrators ain't never gonna understand! Now, you don't even have to talk about it, Ronnie; I mean, it was insane over there! It was crazy!
Ron Kovic: Sometimes I wish, I wish I'd - The first time I got hit, I was shot in the foot. I could have laid down, I mean - who gives a fuck now if I was a hero or not? I was paralyzed, castrated that day; why? It was all so - stupid! I'd have my dick and my balls now, and some days, Timmy - some days I think I'd give everything I believe in - everything I got, all my values, just to have my body back again, just to be whole again. But I'm not whole; I never will be, and that's - that's the way it is, isn't it?
Timmy Burns: [after a slight pause] For Christ's sake, Ronnie, it's your birthday. You're alive. You made it! Smile.

[A drunk Ron Kovic is throwing a tantrum about God not existing, and his Mother's really scared of him]

Mrs. Kovic: What happened in that war? What happened to you? You need help, Ronnie, you need help.
Ron Kovic: No, you need help! All your God and your bullshit dreams about me!
Mrs. Kovic: You'll wake the whole neighborhood. [She starts telling the other children to go to bed]
Tommy Kovic: Please, Mom, let me talk to him.
Mrs. Kovic: You go to bed!
Ron Kovic: FUCK YOU!
Mr. Kovic: Don't you talk to your mother like that!
Mrs. Kovic: What did you say to me?! [Comes back to Ron's room, enraged] WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME?? [Smacks Ron's face a couple of times and leaves; Ron strolls after her]
Ron Kovic: FUCK YOU!!!
Mr. Kovic: Ronnie, that's ENOUGH!
Mrs. Kovic: You're gonna wake the whole neighborhood!
Ron Kovic: OH, WAKE 'EM UP! TELL THEM! CUSACKS, CAMELLETTIS, WALSHES!! You tell them all! Tell them what they did to me. What they did to this country.
Mrs. Kovic: [To Mr. Kovic] They're gonna call the police this time
Ron Kovic: We went to Vietnam to stop communism!... We shot women and children!
Mrs. Kovic: You didn't shoot women and children! What are you saying?
Ron Kovic: That was the war, communism, the insidious evil! They told us to go.
Mrs. Kovic: Yes, yes that's what they told us.
Ron Kovic: Thou shalt not kill, Mom. Thou shalt not kill women and children! Thou shalt not kill! Remember? Isn't that what you taught us? Isn't that what they taught us?
Mrs. Kovic: Stop it! Stop it!
Ron Kovic: But they're the evil, Mom. They're the ones we should be fighting. They lied to me growing up, they lied to all of us, but it's not gonna work anymore. Not for you... for me... for anybody else.
Mrs. Kovic: Stop it, stop it! As long as you're in this house, you will not talk that way. Eli, please stop him.
Mr. Kovic: Ron, come on now... you made your point, now stop.
Ron Kovic: No, I haven't made my point. Tell her, Dad. They're killing everybody now.
Mrs. Kovic: I didn't force you to go!!
Ron Kovic: YES, YOU DID! YES, YOU DID!!! It's all falling apart, Mom! King. Kennedy. Kent State. We all lost the war, Mom. Fucking Communism won! It's all for nothing!
Mrs. Kovic: That is not true, Ronnie.
Ron Kovic: What do you know, Ma? WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!?
Tommy Kovic: Ron.
Ron Kovic: What? Tell her, Tommy. You tell her, Dad! Tell her it's all a lie! It's a fucking lie! Tell her God's as dead as my legs. There's no God and there's no country. It's just me... and this fucking wheelchair for the rest... of my life. [Unzips his pants and sticks his hand in] It's just me and this... dead... penis.
Mrs. Kovic: [Hysterically disgusted] OH MY GOD! RONNIE!!
Mr. Kovic: Don't, Ronnie! Not with the catheter! For God sake!
Ron Kovic: DEAD... PENIS!
Mrs. Kovic: Oh, GOD! Eli, I can't take this anymore.
Mr. Kovic: [Notices the children] Go to your rooms. Go to your ROOMS!
Mrs. Kovic: [To Ron] THE HELL WITH YOU!!!
Ron Kovic: In church they said that it's a sin if you play with your penis, I wish I could.
Mrs. Kovic: Don't say "penis" in this house!
Ron Kovic: Penis!
Mrs. Kovic: Stop!
Ron Kovic: Penis! Big fucking erect penis, MA!
Mrs. Kovic: STOOOOOOP!!
Mrs. Kovic: [Praying in tears] Lord, he won't let go, what do I do?
Ron Kovic: I really don't have time to learn to use it. It's gone in some jungle. Some fucking jungle over there. It's just gone. [Notices his mother sits down crying, and he, too, is in tears] I'm sorry it happened this way. I'm sorry if you're sad, Mom. [Softens] I'm so sorry you're sad. I'm sorry.

Mr. Kovic: Ronnie, I think you should go. What can I do Ronnie? What do you want?
Ron Kovic: I want to be a man again. Who's going to love me, Dad? Who's ever going to love me? [starts crying] Who's going to love me?

Ron Kovic: [confessing that he had accidentally killed their son in Vietnam] I'm sorry, I just had to come here to tell you. I've been afraid for years to come here and tell you. But, I've lived with this long enough. I can't live with it anymore... I can't bring him back. Forgive me... I want to live. I want to go on with my life. I'm sorry, but that's what happened. That's the way it happened, and I can't change a thing.
Mrs. Wilson: We understand, Ron. We understand the pain you've been going through.
Mr. Wilson: We understand, son, we do understand the way...these things happen... in war.
Jamie Wilson: What's done is done, sir. I can't ever forgive you... but maybe the Lord can.

Ron Kovic: [to a news camera, outside the 1972 Republican Convention] Do you hear me? Can I break through your complacency? Can I have an inch... a moment of your compassion for the human beings that are suffering in this war? Do you hear me when I say this war is a crime? When I say I am not as bitter about my wound as the men who have lied to the people of this country? Do you hear me?
Ron Kovic: Why do they want to hide us? Why won't they let the veterans of that war speak tonight? Because they don't wanna know, they don't wanna see us. They wanna hide us because they've lied and cheated to us for so long - but we're not gonna run away and hide anymore. We're gonna win because we love this country. We love this country more than they could ever know. We fought for it. We gave our bodies because we loved it and believed everything it stood for, and tonight we're ashamed of it. And we've come from all the little towns, thousands of us to get this country back again; to make it whole again. Truth, honesty, integrity - this is the lost American dream here tonight, and we're gonna take it back!
Ron Kovic: We're never, never gonna let the people of the United States forget that war, because the moment we do, there's gonna be another war, and another, and another. That's why we're gonna be there for the rest of our lives telling you that the war happened - it wasn't just some nightmare - it happened, and you're not gonna sweep it under the rug because you didn't like the ratings, like some television show. This wheelchair, our wheelchairs, this steel, our steel is your Memorial Day on wheels, we are your Yankee Doodle Dandy coming home...
Republican delegate: Traitor! [spits in Ron's face]
Ron Kovic: Is that what we get? Spit in the face! I've got as much right to be here as any of these delegates. I fought for that right. You're not gonna stop me! You're not gonna shut me up! I'm gonna remind you of this war for the rest of my life so what happened there never happens again!

Ron Kovic: What are we gonna do now?
Charlie: Fuck 'em.
Ron Kovic: Yeah. Sure. How are we gonna get outta here?
Charlie: Fuck 'em all. Fuck the whores. Fuck the cab drivers... fuck Mexico. Fuck Nixon, fuck Vietnam, fuck'em all.
Ron Kovic: Yeah, Charlie, but how are we gonna get outta here?
Charlie: They made me kill babies, man. Little gook babies. You ever have to kill a baby?
Ron Kovic: Yeah, O.K. come on, we gotta get back to the villa.
Charlie: FUCK YOU! [drawing closer]
Ron Kovic: Gotta get back to the villa.
Charlie: What do you mean "ok"?! What do you mean "ok"? You ever have to kill a baby, you ever have to kill a little gook baby?!!
Ron Kovic: What the fuck do you know what I did!! [wheels away]
Charlie: I didn't think so. I didn't think so, you're full of shit.
Ron Kovic: No, you are! The fuck? Leave me the fuck alone. You're nuts, you know that? You're nuts. The fuckin sun is goin' down! what do you know what the fuck comes out here at night? We gotta get outta here.
Charlie: Don't shit me, Kovic. [again drawing closer] You never killed a baby. You never HAD to kill a baby because... you never put your soul into that war. You never put your soul on the line, man!
Ron Kovic: How do you know? How the fuck do you know? maybe I killed babies. Maybe I killed more babies than you did, you FUCK! Maybe I killed a whole bunch' a babies, but I don't talk about it! I don't have to talk about it.(wheels away)
Charlie: Why not? Wh-Why the fuck not? What do you think you are- better than anybody else? You a hero is that it?
Ron Kovic: Fuck you!
Charlie: Maybe you got a whole bunch'a fuckin' medals, but deep down you know you're full of shit. You never fought that war. YOU WEREN'T EVEN THERE, MAN!
Ron Kovic: (Stops. Turns back, enraged) What the fuck did you mean "I wasn't there", man? What did you mean?
Charlie: What the fuck are you hidin' from?
Ron Kovic: I'm not the one that's hidin'. You're the one that's hidin'- down here in Mexico- you're the one that's hidin'! What are you hidin' from you whiny fuck!
Charlie: Don't shit me. You never killed anybody or anything, did ya, Kovic? Did ya?
Ron Kovic: Did you?!
Charlie: DID YA?!!!
Ron Kovic: Did you?!
Charlie: Ya ever look at yourself in the fuckin' mirror?
Ron Kovic: Did you?
Charlie: Fuck you.
Ron Kovic: You.
Charlie: No. You! FUCK YOU!!!
Ron Kovic: No, FUCK YOU!!

[They start spitting at each other then start fighting and fall off of their chairs and keep fighting]