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Vietnam War veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic wrote the autobiography Born on the Fourth of July, the basis of the Oliver Stone film starring Tom Cruise.
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Interrupting Nixon's acceptance speech, Kovic told the audience, "I'm a Vietnam veteran. I gave America my all, and the leaders of this government threw me and others away to rot in their VA hospitals. What's happening in Vietnam is a crime against humanity."
Throughout the rest of the Vietnam War, Kovic remained active in spreading his message of peace and promoting better treatment for veterans,
even going so far as to lead hunger strikes. In 1976 he gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention. That same year, he published a best-selling autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July, detailing his experiences as a Vietnam veteran. A film of same title—based on Kovic's book—directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise as Kovic, was released in 1989. The film won two Academy Awards and several Golden Globe Awards, and increased public awareness of the activist's causes.
In 2003, Kovic led demonstrations protesting the war in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. His recent activism also includes arguing for the construction of a Los Angeles facility for homeless and disabled veterans. Kovic continues to fight for improvements in the way veterans are treated when they return home from battle.
Because Kovic found the experience of making the film Born on the Fourth of July cathartic and healing, he established a peace prize in his name, and on a yearly basis, has been awarding a prize to "the filmmaker who best addresses the issues of peace in a short film."
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