Ron Kovic for AARP

    Twilight. I had dinner with Vietnam Veteran, author and anti-war protestor Ron Kovic in December before making his portrait for AARP Bulletin. In preparation for the meeting I read most of his book Born on The Fourth of July and watched Oliver Stone’s movie version of it. I wanted to understand as much as I could of who he was, and also where he was. This latter part was the foundation for the article.

    We met at a restaurant on the pier near his home. He was both charming and gracious. Dinner consumed most of my two hour window with him, where our conversation ran from politics to socio-economics to love and back again to politics and his evolution into an anti-war activist. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. In the end, I had just about five minutes to make his portrait. We set out for the boardwalk near the pier, when he decided to veer right and went over an embankment nearly falling from his chair. I was mortified because I felt somehow responsible. I helped him back in to his chair and found help to get him back on the boardwalk. He did not show any pain, even though I know he must have been hurt. He is very headstrong. And he insisted we continue. It is clearly this spirit and determination that carried him through much more difficult times.

    Daylight was setting and a storm was just moving in. He bundled in his heavy coat and scarf, his head held high, reminding me of the stature of Rodin’s Balzac, but with more reflection and a glimpse of human frailty. When we were done, he accompanied me to my car. Full of strength and kindness, and not showing any sign of pain from the fall. It was a pleasure to make his portrait. And, indeed, an honor to make his acquaintance.

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