The Coretta King offer never materialized. Many of Fritz’s liberal allies were furious about the decision to use Louise Ransom and Ron Kovic. He talked about those with bad discharges who would never find jobs. He took off his glasses and smiled at the thought of it all. After answering questions about the amnesty issue, Fritz was joined at the news conference by Ron Kovic, the disabled vet he had seen at the party two nights before. The idea for the vice-presidency had first been suggested by Professor Ronald Dworkin, an Oxford jurisprudence don who was a member of the Democrats Abroad delegation. Sarah Kovner stood next to me on the floor and said, “Poor Louise, how can she follow this.” Louise looked confident as she came into view. Nobody listened. He looked through them for a moment, and seven long years were sucked into one tiny increment of time. After a 13-month tour of duty, he returned home, still believing in the importance of the war to stop the spread of  Communism in Vietnam. As they moved past the Illinois delegation Ron Kovic did something that Fritz could never have done. Then on January 20, 1968, while leading his squad across an open area in the Demilitarized Zone north of the Cua Viet River, Kovic was shot. I ache for each of those lines.”. Explore Ron Kovic's biography, personal life, family and real age. When I came into the room, Fritz sat up. "So competitive, male-driven...even with his mother! The morning showed an atomic red sky over Long Island as Fritz took his delegate’s badge off his suit. Rivera had promised that if Fritz snuck into Manhattan before his court appearance, he would interview him on Good Morning America and personally assure his safe return to the Eastern District. Then he told them about January 20th, 1968, when he was shot, and paralyzed for the rest of his life. He wasn’t used to looking down on people he reveled in it. He feels responsible for warning people about the brutality of war, the realities of being forsaken as a war veteran, and letting people know about the hopeful power of peace. He still thought we should do it. Whether they expected us to pull out of the vice-president idea was unclear. He looked down at them for a minute and then thrust his hands above his head. They sensed that Fritz was the cause célèbre of the gathering. “Hey man,” Dellums said to Fritz, “this is the way to go. He was to be the fourth nominee — right after Mondale. He spoke clearly and slowly as he explained why he had risked jail to come to the convention. They represent various tendencies within a fractious organization that is unified only in its demand for a blanket amnesty and in its tireless efforts to rectify some of the Vietnam war’s injustices. Various people who had helped us sought each other out on the floor and shook hands. Over time, Kovic understood that war wasn't all about heroism, and that America did not truly respect its soldiers' sacrifices. He put his arm around his sister Marilyn and spoke quietly. He looked confused. Harold Ickes looked at Fritz and said, “It had great dignity.”. I’m going to nominate a friend of mine to be vice-president of the United States. Louise went to the platform and delivered a powerful statement on amnesty. I had been called an agent provocateur and a blackmailer. It’s a long way from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to South London. London and the beginning. He volunteered to return. He eventually became president of the organization. The chairman looked on the verge of paroxysms. We all left the party with a greater feeling of legitimacy by virtue of these powerful new allies. Associated With. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. At ten o’clock the following evening, Jeff Carter put his feet up on a chair and told Fritz that on the whole, he’d really rather be in Atlanta. Sign up for our newsletter. At the meeting in the bedroom above Sarah’s Saturday night party, some highlevel people urged Fritz to present his case from the podium. His recent activism also includes advocating for the development of a Los Angeles facility for homeless and disabled veterans. I had played flack, confidant, spy and speech writer — senior factotum to a political pilgrimage which had suddenly reached Icarian heights. I hear you sold us out.”. He addressed the Democrats Abroad platform hearings on April 1st at the University of London. Fifteen minutes were allotted to any certified nominee to use as he wished. No one will ever again be my enemy, no matter how hard they try to frighten and intimidate me. The convention podium rose over 30 feet above the floor of Madison Square Garden. As we were leaving the party, Fritz ran into Ron Kovic, a disabled former Marine sergeant who had been conspicuously active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War. I went to a draft counseling session at Harvard and I’ll never forget that rich kid with a medical deferment telling me to join the Army and do the right thing from inside the military. Accordingly, the decision was made to go with the vice-presidency. By 7:45 on Thursday morning, D-day, I was up and working on a draft of the speech. Then it was over. The delegates looked down and many of them cried. At around 11 o’clock, in a bedroom above the Kovners’ party, Fritz met with some of the sharpest political strategists on the left side of the Democratic party. They all talked about home and about the last time that they remembered feeling close and Fritz seemed comfortable for the first time since his arrival. “That’s where I would be if I wasn’t here,” he said. Fritz agreed. A second Marine carried Kovic to safety through intense fire. The speeches weren’t written. There were bear hugs and there were tears. He was, however, brought-up in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. He told of going back to Vietnam, after his first tour of duty, to prove he still loved his country. His parents soon moved to Massapequa, NY, where he was raised a proud patriot in a family with a history of military service. “To Fritz,” she said. Fritz sounded far away on the phone that night: “They tried to screw me again.”. He knew that there would always be segments of the journey he would never understand. His statement was personally moving and incisive in its analysis. Want more Rolling Stone? Fritz had mustered 15 friends to sign a petition to get his name on the ballots for the Democrats Abroad primary that was to be held in May. He had won but he was a fugitive from justice who was going back to dare the government to arrest him. He told them about killing one of his own men, and about killing civilians. For seven years he’d asked the London press to come to his marches and meetings, as he stood with other exiles and friends outside the American Embassy. But it would be three more years before he would find a way to go home. “Hey,” he said. I have been given the task of lighting a lantern, ringing a bell, shouting from the highest rooftops, warning the American people and citizens everywhere of the deep immorality and utter wrongness of this approach to solving our problems, pleading for an alternative to this chaos and madness, this insanity and brutality. He explained that deserters were often people who simply didn’t know that the war was wrong until they got to Vietnam. They wondered if he knew what he was doing. As he looked back on his miserable time in the Veterans' hospital, he  was left "wondering how our government could spend so much money (billions of dollars) on the most lethal, technologically advanced weaponry to kill and maim human beings but not be able to take care of its own wounded when they came home." Do you agree that I am running this? During a quick and confusing ambush by a North Vietnamese Army unit near a village along the Cua Viet River, he accidentally shot a young US corporal. Things were going ridiculously smoothly, and the idea of Fritz addressing the nation was taking on verisimilitude. “Do you gentlemen agree that this is our meeting? That same year, he published his autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July, a searing account of his experiences in Vietnam and as a returning veteran. We all gotta get out there and talk, I’m with you.”. Fritz would then second himself and end his speech by declining the nomination. By June 8th the results of the primary were in. He had never dreamed it would be like this. Everyone owned a piece of Fritz Efaw’s body. Jeff Jones, a Texas delegate, suggested that we mobilize our floor allies and nominate someone who is over 35. Then they talked about cars, money and Lester Maddox. Mike Bleicher, a member of the Democratic National Committee, was bringing one of the few minority reports to the convention floor on Tuesday, which would require 20 minutes of pro and con discussion on no more than three issues. One of his flatmates committed suicide. It would be a cavalcade of Vietnam memories. He had suddenly become the only potential source of drama at what promised to be a singularly boring convention. He was afraid of their money: “Those people have carpets that go all the way to the wall,” he had said. Kovic spent a week in an intensive care ward in Da Nang and then was returned to the US for further treatment. A deal had been struck by which the assistant U.S. attorney had agreed to let him through immigration to see his family if he gave himself up in Brooklyn the next morning. This is convention business. When the delegates could see the attendants struggling to get Kovic up onto the podium, they did something that they hadn’t done in four days. The tension and stress on that Wednesday night after Jimmy Carter’s official nomination were hurting him. Downstairs, the Carter campaign staff and assorted luminaries had gathered for a party. Ickes had researched the idea with the Rules Committee and found that there was a distinct possibility that, because of his age, Fritz would be ruled “frivolous and dilatory” by the convention parliamentarian. Down in the office, Kovic was in an advanced euphoric state and kept wheeling around the office and thumping people on the back. He lost his job as a computer programmer. “I thought about faking a medical deferment, but I hadn’t had that solid middle-class experience with doctors and lawyers.

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