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article imageOp-Ed: 'Hanoi' Jane Fonda Turns 70

By Lew Waters     Dec 18, 2007 in Politics
Few names bring out more negative feelings and comments from many Vietnam Veterans than does that of Jane Fonda, more commonly known as "Hanoi Jane," to those of us who served in Vietnam.
In spite of her efforts today to smooth over her treasonous actions of traveling to Communist North Vietnam, where she broadcasted pro-communist messages, had her photo taken while she gleefully sat at an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American aircraft, met with selective American POWs and heartily embraced the communist message that eventually enslaved the people of South Vietnam, not to mention her pre-North Vietnam conduct outside of US Military bases, disdain of her is as strong as ever to many who lost friends or loved ones in the war.
Fonda, born in 1937, turns 70 on December 21 and is already enjoying accolades from close friends and associates. Obviously acknowledging and making light of her controversial history, Fonda compiled a list of songs for her friend, Bonnie Rait, to sing at a party held December 13. She said, "Let's give them 'Something to Talk About,'" adding, "Thankfully, though, with people like Rosie O'Donnell, Eve Ensler and Ted Turner in the room, I won't be the only one that the song applies to!"
For those not familiar with Fonda's activities in the late 1960's and early 1970's and that might have received the email that has been circulating for years now about her, not everything in the email is true. Just who salted the email with the falsehoods is unknown. Having done so they ran the risk of watering down her true treasonous actions. Her actions were injurious as they were, no need to add to them.
In a 2004 interview with Paula Zahn, she was asked about her role. Zahn asked, "Jane, you have apologized to the families of Vietnam War vets, saying that maybe you have said some things that you wish you hadn't said along the way. Do you think you'll ever be able to satisfy people to this day who question what you did in Vietnam?"
Fonda replied, "No. There's a lot of people who – who – it's a cottage industry to hate me. And if they – if they stop, that might mean that they'd have to look at some things that would question their own identity. And that's – it's very hard for people to do."
What neither acknowledges is that it is mostly Veterans and their families who comprise this "cottage industry" she talks about. While Fonda may have "spent a number of years trying to put her controversial Vietnam past behind her," many Vietnam Veterans, who served their country faithfully and honorably have spent the past 35 years trying to understand why we weren't allowed to finish the fight and keep the South Vietnamese people free. We wonder why we were spat at, called baby killer, murderers, losers, drug addicts and much more. We don't receive the chance to "put it behind us" when it is still being thrown in our faces as we see history trying to repeat itself with our Troops today.
While Fonda continued on with her roles in movies, writing books and producing exercise tapes, earning millions of dollars, false beliefs and tales about Vietnam Veterans proliferated, resulting in many Veterans burying memories and acknowledgements that they even served, so as to avoid the catcalls and sometimes, just to be able to support their families in a hostile community. Others bought into Fonda's pro-communist rhetoric and supported her, but they were a distinct minority.
Of the two apologies mentioned above, at best, they could be labeled as Pseudo-Apology's, in reality, closer to "non-apology’s," as her regrets are over her photo being taken, not her treasonous conduct nor demoralizing so many honorable veterans. She has also never offered even regrets to the millions of South Vietnamese people that survived the initial communist take over to be enslaved by the Communist North Vietnamese.
Former Cobra gunship helicopter pilot and author, Terry L. Garlock, a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran, recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, took exception to the fawning media coverage given Fonda in an article he submitted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Media glow on Fonda ignores her treason."
That she was never prosecuted for her anti-American activities has left many dumbfounded.
Not everyone shares in the contempt so many Veterans have for her. At her birthday party, celebrity pals flew in to honor her. Actress Sally Field said, "Jane is my deepest and truest friend…. I'm here tonight with my open heart and my sagging face to thank you for everything you've given me."
Ex-husband Ted Turner added, "what attracted me to her is her incredible courage. Jane has more courage than just about anybody I've ever met. During the Vietnam War, I kept my mouth shut. I learned early on you don't get into trouble when you keep your mouth shut. Jane never learned that. ..."
Rosie O'Donnell recalled a conversation with Fonda after an appearance on O'Donnell's talk show, "She said, 'I'm not good at friendships, but I'd like to be yours. Can I come to your house?' To which I replied, [expletive] yes!"
Of the milestone birthday she is approaching, she says, "I'm turning 70 and people think 'Yuck!' Wrong! I'm having the best time of my life right now." She adds, "I'm over the hill. And nobody prepared me for what was on the other side of the hill. It's a beautiful, calm landscape even if it's a little blurred. But that's just my vision sometimes! I have a blessed life."
I am left wondering if she ever gives a thought to just what type of life she helped create for many of the 2.6 million men who served honorably and faithfully in Vietnam and if some of the 58,249 names on "the Wall" in Washington D.C. might also have had a "blessed life," if not for her treasonous actions helping to prolong that war and emboldening an enemy that was continually defeated on the battlefield?
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