The Truth About My Trip To Hanoi

I grew up during World War II. My childhood was influenced by the roles my father played in his movies. Whether Abraham Lincoln or Tom Joad in the Grapes of Wrath, his characters communicated certain values which I try to carry with me to this day. I remember saying goodbye to my father the night he left to join the Navy. He didn’t have to. He was older than other servicemen and had a family to support but he wanted to be a part of the fight against fascism, not just make movies about it. I admired this about him. I grew up with a deep belief that wherever our troops fought, they were on the side of the angels.

For the first 8 years of the Vietnam War I lived in France. I was married to the French film director, Roger Vadim and had my first child. The French had been defeated in their own war against Vietnam a decade before our country went to war there, so when I heard, over and over, French people criticizing our country for our Vietnam War I hated it. I viewed it as sour grapes. I refused to believe we could be doing anything wrong there.

It wasn’t until I began to meet American servicemen who had been in Vietnam and had come to Paris as resisters that I realized I needed to learn more. I took every chance I could to meet with U.S. soldiers. I talked with them and read the books they gave me about the war. I decided I needed to return to my country and join with them—active duty soldiers and Vietnam Veterans in particular—to try and end the war. I drove around the country visiting military bases, spending time in the G.I. Coffee houses that had sprung up outside many bases –places where G.I.s could gather. I met with Army psychiatrists who were concerned about the type of training our men were receiving…quite different, they said, from the trainings during WWII and Korea. The doctors felt this training was having a damaging effect on the psyches of the young men, effects they might not recover from. I raised money and hired a former Green Beret, Donald Duncan, to open and run the G.I. Office in Washington D.C. to try and get legal and congressional help for soldiers who were being denied their rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I talked for hours with U.S. pilots about their training, and what they were told about Vietnam. I met with the wives of servicemen. I visited V.A. hospitals. Later in 1978, wanting to share with other Americans some of what I had learned about the experiences of returning soldiers and their families, I made the movie Coming Home. I was the one who would be asked to speak at large anti-war rallies to tell people that the men in uniform were not the enemy, that they did not start the war, that they were, in growing numbers our allies. I knew as much about military law as any layperson. I knew more than most civilians about the realities on the ground for men in combat. I lived and breathed this stuff for two years before I went to North Vietnam. I cared deeply for the men and boys who had been put in harms way. I wanted to stop the killing and bring our servicemen home. I was infuriated as I learned just how much our soldiers were being lied to about why we were fighting in Vietnam and I was anguished each time I would be with a young man who was traumatized by his experiences. Some boys shook constantly and were unable to speak above a whisper.

It is unconscionable that extremist groups circulate letters which accuse me of horrific things, saying that I am a traitor, that POWs in Hanoi were tied up and in chains and marched passed me while I spat at them and called them ‘baby killers. These letters also say that when the POWs were brought into the room for a meeting I had with them, we shook hands and they passed me tiny slips of paper on which they had written their social security numbers. Supposedly, this was so that I could bring back proof to the U.S. military that they were alive. The story goes on to say that I handed these slips of paper over to the North Vietnamese guards and, as a result, at least one of the men was tortured to death. That these stories could be given credence shows how little people know of the realities in North Vietnam prisons at the time. The U.S. government and the POW families didn’t need me to tell them who the prisoners were. They had all their names. Moreover, according to even the most hardcore senior officers, torture stopped late in 1969, two and a half years before I got there. And, most importantly, I would never say such things to our servicemen, whom I respect, whether or not I agree with the mission they have been sent to perform, which is not of their choosing.

But these lies have circulated for almost forty years, continually reopening the wound of the Vietnam War and causing pain to families of American servicemen. The lies distort the truth of why I went to North Vietnam and they perpetuate the myth that being anti-war means being anti-soldier.

Little known is the fact that almost 300 Americans—journalists, diplomats, peace activists, professors, religious leaders and Vietnam Veterans themselves—had been traveling to North Vietnam over a number of years in an effort to try and find ways to end the war (By the way, those trips generated little if any media attention.) I brought with me to Hanoi a thick package of letters from families of POWs. Since 1969, mail for the POWs had been brought in and out of North Vietnam every month by American visitors. The Committee of Liaison With Families coordinated this effort. I took the letters to the POWs and brought a packet of letters from them back to their families.

The Photo of Me on the Gun Site.

There is one thing that happened while in North Vietnam that I will regret to my dying day— I allowed myself to be photographed on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. I want to, once again, explain how that came about. I have talked about this numerous times on national television and in my memoirs, My Life So Far, but clearly, it needs to be repeated.

It happened on my last day in Hanoi. I was exhausted and an emotional wreck after the 2-week visit. It was not unusual for Americans who visited North Vietnam to be taken to see Vietnamese military installations and when they did, they were always required to wear a helmet like the kind I was told to wear during the numerous air raids I had experienced. When we arrived at the site of the anti-aircraft installation (somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi), there was a group of about a dozen young soldiers in uniform who greeted me. There were also many photographers (and perhaps journalists) gathered about, many more than I had seen all in one place in Hanoi. This should have been a red flag.

The translator told me that the soldiers wanted to sing me a song. He translated as they sung. It was a song about the day ‘Uncle Ho’ declared their country’s independence in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. I heard these words: “All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, Liberty and Happiness.” These are the words Ho pronounced at the historic ceremony. I began to cry and clap. These young men should not be our enemy. They celebrate the same words Americans do.

The soldiers asked me to sing for them in return. As it turned out I was prepared for just such a moment: before leaving the United States, I memorized a song called Day Ma Di, written by anti-war South Vietnamese students. I knew I was slaughtering it, but everyone seemed delighted that I was making the attempt. I finished. Everyone was laughing and clapping, including me, overcome on this, my last day, with all that I had experienced during my 2 week visit. What happened next was something I have turned over and over in my mind countless times. Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don’t remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed. I got up, and as I started to walk back to the car with the translator, the implication of what had just happened hit me. “Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes.” I pleaded with him, “You have to be sure those photographs are not published. Please, you can’t let them be published.” I was assured it would be taken care of. I didn’t know what else to do. (I didn’t know yet that among the photographers there were some Japanese.)

It is possible that it was a set up, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know. But if they did I can’t blame them. The buck stops here. If I was used, I allowed it to happen. It was my mistake and I have paid and continue to pay a heavy price for it. Had I brought a politically more experienced traveling companion with me they would have kept me from taking that terrible seat. I would have known two minutes before sitting down what I didn’t realize until two minutes afterwards; a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever. The gun was inactive, there were no planes overhead, I simply wasn’t thinking about what I was doing, only about what I was feeling, innocent of what the photo implies. But the photo exists, delivering its message regardless of what I was doing or feeling. I carry this heavy in my heart. I have apologized numerous times for any pain I may have caused servicemen and their families because of this photograph. It was never my intention to cause harm. It is certainly painful for me that I, who had spent so much time talking to soldiers, trying to help soldiers and veterans, helping the anti-war movement to not blame the soldiers, now would be seen as being against our soldiers!

So Why I Did I Go?

On May 8th, 1972, President Nixon had ordered underwater, explosive mines to be placed in Haiphong Harbor, something that had been rejected by previous administrations. Later that same month, reports began to come in from European scientists and diplomats that the dikes of the Red River Delta in North Vietnam were being targeted by U.S. planes. The Swedish ambassador to Vietnam reported to an American delegation in Hanoi that he had at first believed the bombing was accidental, but now, having seen the dikes with his own eyes, he was convinced it was deliberate.

I might have missed the significance of these reports had Tom Hayden, whom I was dating, not shown me what the recently released Pentagon Papers had to say on the subject: in 1966, Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton, searching for some new means to bring Hanoi to its knees, had proposed destroying North Vietnam’s system of dams and dikes, which, he said, “If handled right- might…offer promise…such destruction does not kill or drown people. By shallow-flooding the rice, it leads after a time to widespread starvation (more than a million?) unless food is provided—which we could offer to do at the conference table.”[1] President Johnson, to his credit, had not acted upon this option.

Now, six years later, Richard Nixon appeared to have given orders to target the dikes—whether to actually destroy them[2] or to demonstrate the threat of destruction, no one knew.

It is important to understand that the Red River is the largest river in North Vietnam. Like Holland, its delta is below sea level. Over centuries, the Vietnamese people have constructed –by hand!– an intricate network of earthen dikes and dams to hold back the sea, a network two thousand five hundred miles long! The stability of these dikes becomes especially critical as monsoon season approaches, and requires an all-out effort on the part of citizens to repair any damage from burrowing animals or from normal wear and tear. Now it was June, but this was no ‘normal wear and tear’ they were facing. The Red River would begin to rise in July and August. Should there be flooding, the mining of Haiphong Harbor would prevent any food from being imported; the bombing showed no signs of letting up; and there was little press coverage of the impending disaster should the dikes be weakened by the bombing and give way. Something drastic had to be done.

The Nixon Administration and its US Ambassador to the United Nations, George Bush (the father), would vehemently deny what was happening, but the following are excerpts from the April-May 1972 transcripts of conversations between President Nixon and top administration officials.

April 25th 1972

Nixon: “We’ve got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack [of North Vietnam}…Now, by all-out bombing attack, I am thinking about things that go far beyond…I’m thinking of the dikes, I’m thinking of the railroad, I’m thinking, of course, of the docks.”

Kissinger: “I agree with you.”

President Nixon: “And I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?”

Kissinger: “About two hundred thousand people.”

President Nixon: “No, no, no…I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?

Kissinger: “That, I think, would just be too much.”

President Nixon: “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?…I just want to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.”

May 4, 1972.[3]

John B. Connally (Secretary of the Treasury):…”bomb for seriousness, not just as a signal. Railroads, ports, power stations, communication lines…and don’t worry about killing civilians. Go ahead and kill ’em….People think you are [killing civilians] now. So go ahead and give ’em some.”

Richard Nixon: “That’s right.”

[Later in same conversation]

Richard Nixon: “We need to win the goddamned war…and…what that fella [?] said about taking out the goddamned dikes, all right, we’ll take out the goddamned dikes….If Henry’s for that, I’m for it all the way.”

The administration wanted the American public to believe Nixon was winding down the war because he was bringing our ground troops home. (At the time I went to Hanoi, there were only approximately 25,000 troops left in South Vietnam from a high of 540,000 in early 1969) In fact, the war was escalating…from the air. And, as I said, monsoon season was approaching. Something drastic had to be done.

That May, I received an invitation from the North Vietnamese in Paris to make the trip to Hanoi. Many had gone before me but perhaps it would take a different sort of celebrity to get people’s attention. Heightened public attention was what was needed to confront the impending crisis with the dikes. I would take a camera and bring back photographic evidence (if such was to be found) of the bomb damage of the dikes we’d been hearing about.

I arranged the trip’s logistics through the Vietnamese delegation at the Paris Peace talks, bought myself a round trip ticket and stopped in New York to pick up letters for the POWs.

Frankly, the trip felt like a call to service. It was a humanitarian mission, not a political trip. My goal was to expose and try to halt the bombing of the dikes. (The bombing of the dikes ended a month after my return from Hanoi)

The only problem was that I went alone. Had I been with a more experienced, clear-headed, traveling companion, I would not have allowed myself to get into a situation where I was photographed on an anti-aircraft gun.

The Spin

My trip to North Vietnam never became a big story in the Summer/Fall of 1972–nothing on television, one small article in the New York Times. The majority of the American public, Congress, and the media were opposed to the war by then and they didn’t seem to take much notice of my trip. After all, as I said, almost three hundred Americans had gone to Hanoi before me. There had been more than eighty broadcasts by Americans over Radio Hanoi before I made mine. I had decided to do the broadcasts because I was so horrified by the bombing of civilian targets and I wanted to speak to U.S. pilots as I had done on so many occasions during my visits to U.S. military bases and at G.I. Coffee houses. I never asked pilots to desert. I wanted to tell them what I was seeing as an American on the ground there. The Nixon Justice Department poured over the transcripts of my broadcasts trying to find a way to put me on trial for treason but they could find none. A. William Olson, a representative of the Justice Department, [4] said after studying the transcripts, that I had asked the military “to do nothing other than to think.”

But from the Nixon Administration’s point of view, something had to be done. If the government couldn’t prosecute me in court because, in reality, I had broken no laws, then the pro-war advocates would make sure I was prosecuted in the court of public opinion.

The myth making about my being responsible for POW torture began seven months after I returned from North Vietnam, and several months after the war had ended, and the U.S. POWs had returned home. “Operation Homecoming,” in February 1973, was planned by the Pentagon and orchestrated by the White House. It was unprecedented in its lavishness. I was outraged that there had been no homecoming celebrations for the 10s of 1000s of men who had done combat. But from 1969 until their release in 1973, Nixon had made sure that the central issue of the war for many Americans was about the torture of American POWs (the very same years when the torture had stopped!). He had to seize the opportunity to create something that resembled victory. It was as close as he would come, and the POWs were the perfect vehicles to deflect the nation’s attention away from what our government had done in Vietnam, how they had broken faith with our servicemen.

I became a target the government could use, to suggest that some POWs who had met with me while I was in Hanoi had been tortured into pretending they were anti-war. The same thing was done to try and frame former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, whose trip to North Vietnam followed mine.

According to Seymour Hersh, author and journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre and, later, the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal, when American families of POWs became alarmed at the news that there was torture in North Vietnam prisons, they received letters from the Pentagon saying: “We are certain that you will not become unduly concerned over the [torture] briefing if you keep in mind the purpose for which it was tailored.”[5]

But, according to what the POWs wrote in their books, conditions in the POW camps improved in the four years preceding their release—that is, from 1969 until 1973. Upon their release, Newsweek magazine wrote, “the [torture] stories seemed incongruent with the men telling them – a trim, trig [note: this is actually the word used in the article] lot who, given a few pounds more flesh, might have stepped right out of a recruiting poster.”[6]

Once the POWs were home, the Pentagon and White House handpicked a group of the highest ranking POWs–senior officers, to travel the national media circuit, some of them telling of torture. A handwritten note from President Nixon to H.R. Haldeman says that “the POW’s need to have the worst quotes of R. Clark and Fonda” to use in their TV appearances, but this information shouldn’t come from the White House.[7] These media stories were allowed to become the official narrative, the universal “POW Story,” giving the impression that all the men had been subjected to systematic torture—right up to the end–and that torture was the policy of the North Vietnamese government. The POWs who said there was no torture in their camps were never allowed access to the media.

Not that any torture is justified or that anyone who had been tortured should have been prevented from telling about it. But the Nixon White House orchestrated a distorted picture of what actually occurred.

In my anger at the torture story that was being allowed to spread, at how the entire situation was being manipulated, I made a mistake I deeply regret. I said that the POWs claiming torture were liars, hypocrites, and pawns.

I said, “I’m quite sure that there were incidents of torture…but the pilots who are saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that’s a lie.”[8]

What I didn’t know at the time was that although there had been no torture after 1969, before then there had been systematic torture of some POWS. One of the more hawkish of them, James Stockdale, wrote in his book, In Love and War, that no more than ten percent of the pilots received at least ninety percent of the punishment.[9] John Hubbell, in P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-of-War Experience in Vietnam, agreed, and affirmed the fact that torture stopped in 1969.[10]

When the POWs came home, some who had been there longest told the press how they clogged up prison toilets and sewers, refused to come when ordered, or follow prison rules. One of the most famous, Jeremiah Denton, said, “We forced them [the guards] to be brutal to us.”[11] I relay this not to minimize the hardships that the POWs endured, nor to excuse it– but to attempt belatedly to restore a greater depth of insight into the entire POW experience with their captors.

Still, whether any torture was administered to certain, more recalcitrant POWs and not to others is unacceptable. Even though only a small percent of prisoners were tortured by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, it wasn’t right. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s standards, torturing prisoners to get information is justified. It isn’t. Not ever. All nations must adhere to the Geneva Convention’s rules of warfare.

As anyone who knew or worked with me in those years knows that my heart has always been with the soldiers. I should have been clearer that my anger back then was at the Nixon Administration. It was the administration, in its cynical determination to keep hostilities between the U.S. and Vietnam alive and to distract people from the administration’s mistakes, who tried to use the POWs as pawns.

Addressing The Internet lies

By the end of the Nineties, even more grotesque torture lies began to be circulated about me over the Internet—the ones that continue to this day.

Let me quote a former POW, Captain Mike McGrath (USN Retired), president of the POW-NAM Organization. In a letter to Roger Friedman, at the time a columnist for Fox411, on Friday, January 12, 2001 (he gave Friedman permission to make the letter public) McGrath wrote:

Yes, the Carrigan/Driscoll/strips of paper story is an Internet hoax. It has been around since Nov 1999 or so. To the best of my knowledge none of this ever happened. This is a hoax story placed on the Internet by unknown Fonda haters. No one knows who initiated the story. I have spoken with all the parties named: Carrigan, Driscoll, et al. They all state that this particular story is a hoax and wish to disassociate their names from the false story. They never made the statements attributed to them.

In his letter, McGrath also said to Friedman that by the time I went to Hanoi in 1972, treatment of the POWs was starting to improve and that I “did not bring torture or abuse to the POWs,” but that one man [Hoffman], the “senior ranking man in a room full of new guys,” was tortured (“hung by his broken arm”) to make him come to the meeting with me. McGrath wrote:

Why one man (name withheld by request) was picked out for torture of his broken arm is unknown…

The answer is, it never happened!

Will what I have written here stop the myths from continuing to be spread on the Internet and in mass mailings to conservative Republicans? I don’t know. Some people seem to need to hate and I make a convenient lightning rod. I think the lies and distortions serve some right-wing purpose—fundraising? Demonizing me so as to scare others from becoming out-spoken anti-war activists? Who knows? But at least here, on my blog (and in my memoirs), there is a place where people who are genuinely interested in the truth can find it.



[1] PP Vol. 1V, p. 43 (Italics in the original)

[2] As Hitler had done to the Netherlands during World War II. German High Commissioner Seyss-Inquart was condemned to death at Nuremberg for opening the dikes in Holland.

[3] Oval Office Conversation No. 719-22, May 4, 1972; Nixon White House Tapes; National Archives at College Park, College Park MD

[4] Hearings before the Committee on Internal Security, House of Representatives, 92 Congress, Second Session, Sept. 10 & 25th, 1972 (Washington: Government Printing Office): 7552

[5] Hersh, The P.O.W. Issue: A National Issue is Born, Dayton (Ohio) Journal-Herald, 13-18 Feb 1971

[6] Newsweek, 4/16/73

[7] Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, White House Special Files: Staff Mamber & Office Files: H.R. Haldeman: Box 47: Folder: H. Notes Jan-Feb-Mar 1973 National Archives

[8] NYT, 7 April 1973,11

[9] In Love and War, p.447

[10] P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-of-War Experience in Vietnam, John G. Hubbell, 91,430

[11] New York Times, 30 April 1973.

 

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355 Comments
  1. Per my avatar Ms. Fonda, your quote as follows doesn’t quite ring true to me:

    “led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting.”

  2. Dear Jane Fonda,
    I enjoyed reading your article /The-Truth-About-My-Trip-To-by-Jane-Fonda-110723-168.html
    I have many family members in military.
    However ,I try to keep an open mind.
    Last August I went to DPRK with my wife and two sons for one week.
    Almost 23-30 percent of civilian population of DPRK was killed in korean war by US bombing.
    The DPRK was very kind to me and my family even though we resemble the people who killed many of their grandparents.
    White Southerners are not usually known for compassion of foreign cultures.
    You should wage peace not war.
    Promoting understanding and compassion between countries is worthwhile.
    I visited the Pyongyang general hospital .
    I even promote an energy project in DPRK.
    My last visit was this year.

    here are pictures
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page2/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page3/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page4/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page5/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page6/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/page7/

    Visit my two websites. http://www.easyautism.com and http://www.coaldiesel.org
    If you would like to promote medical or science project in DPRK , let me know.
    Please consider a trip there, and I can arrange.

    Call me Dr Mark Hayden an open minded Alabama Physician 334 462 7328 [email protected]
    Promote peace not war.
    Take the road less traveled.

  3. Hi Jane
    Isn’t this great? A whole discussion online! 30 years ago this couldn’t have happened and here you are blogging, and explaining, about this experience, practically one on one. what a blessing. fantastic.
    Take care
    Jason

  4. Jane,

    I was there. I’m a veteran of ViêtNam war, and I’m glad I head about your blog today.

    For many years I’ve been hearing the hate and the vile stories told about you, and watched them become more over-the-top whack-job crazy as time went on. I was against the war and our involvement in it before I was drafted, during my service, and after my return. But I did not refuse induction, and served, as best I could, in an honorable fashion–whatever that means where war is concerned.

    I’ve never believed the propaganda against you, and from everything I’ve read or heard from sources I trust, you’ve led an honest and dedicated life, and always had the best interests of the soldiers at heart. Did you make mistakes then? Sure. So did I. We were both young then. But I admire how you’ve stood up all these years with that almost unremitting firehose of hatred trained on you. I’m sure I would not have done as well.

    I was glad to find the comment section with some responses from you, because it occurred to me that while I have, from time to time, defended you in some “discussions” with other vets, I’ve never taken the time to let you know directly that there is at least one more vet out there who believes in you, and who would be proud to call you friend, or sister.

    The world needs more like you today, more than ever.

    Peace,
    =GPN

  5. (edited from my original which was not published today and I understand, no worries)…Good to hear from you again Jane. I’m happy you have a new book out. Your story is very moving. I read this last night. I’m so sorry you were picked on so much when all you were doing was protecting American soldiers and Vietnamese people from the United States. I feel if we truly live in a Democracy we should have the right to do this. Believe it or not, I grew up in Orange County CA and remember hearing people bad mouth you. I know at an early age I would have to move to LA or further north. I found your anti-war efforts inspiring when I was young, whether heard from a person telling a story, a reporter on TV, or a history book in school. After I finished college at UC Santa Cruz, I went to work for Peace Action West (their origins dating back to Sane and the Nuclear Freeze).
    Our country needs more citizens like yourself who care for all humanity and who are not afraid to exercise their rights by shinning a light on corruption in our government, whether institutionally bureaucratic, or the self interests of a party or candidate.
    I am so glad you had the Pentagon Papers to mull over at that time in your life. Washington has a penchant for wanting to control information and the public’s perception of it. They are threatened by people who interfere with their messages and sometimes their deceptions. I am really sorry you went through all this and were investigated by the Nixon administration. It reminds me of HUAC in the 1950’s when they were ruining actors’ careers in Hollywood.
    Jane, thank you so much for shinning a light then and all you do now. You have only done good things for US Soldiers and Democracy in the process. And the professional news agencies, publishers and television networks at that time knew this, despite the duplication and dissemination of that image. So shame on them.
    Thank you Jane.
    Kind regards,
    Tom Taylor

  6. Ms. Fonda,

    http://www.viet-myths.net/BuiTin.htm

    “How North Vietnam Won The War
    Bui Tin Interviewed by Stephen Young”

    I thank you for your explanation and in many ways, admire your courage and conviction. I suppose the notion of railroading you being a government conspiracy included the North Vietnamese General in the article as well. So you’ve got it coming from all sides. I posted that link so the truth of that propaganda against you can be displayed as well.

    The anti-war movement did much to stop the US War in Vietnam, apparently. It also set the tone for the next twenty-six years, up until 9-11 as to how to defeat the United States. Pit its own people against one another. That’s happening now. The legacy of the anti-vietnam war movement continues to have great impact.

    I’m sorry for the negative consequences of your actions. I wish they didn’t have to occur. But history will laud you and many others as being the leaders of a world changing and the end of the American Military Industrial Complex. QVC seems to be small potatos. You lived a wonderful life and have maintained so much of your physical beauty, you’re amazing. I’m a nothing. But my thoughts turn to the 18-19 year old boys who became men in Vietnam and never returned. They ‘faced the wall’ in some VA hospital somewhere. I’m sure you know about them as you’ve been to many. Faces maimed beyond recognition, losing the will to live with their face blown off; jaws, eyes, head missing. They just “faced the wall” and died. Afterall, so much of this country’s culture is based on sex appeal and good looks – hey you know that – you’re beautiful and have capitalized on that as well as your talent. When I think of Vietnam, I think of them. Not you. I don’t buy anything from QVC anyway. If you need the money, maybe I’ll buy some copies of Barbaraella or something, we all got to eat.

    Keep on, keepin’ on.

    Much Love
    ConfusedOne

  7. Just another red herring (no pun intended, really).

    Should — REALLY should — make you wonder how the PR Pros of the Right (that includes both major parties, in my book) can maintain a Public Myth and LIE about Jane for 40 years!!

    They DO it. And they do similar things about TONS of topics, not the least of which includes Global Warming, health care in Canada is bad, etc.

    Jane’s REAL SIN, IMO, was not exactly that she went to Hanoi or began to see the world differently when confronted with — horror — the FACTS, but that she, as a Public Figure, DARED to represent the position of Ordinary People who opposed the war.

    My thanks continue to go to Jane who was honest and sincere and represented the BEST of our people.

    It is way past time that this travesty of Phony Media Myths and Non-News be exposed and opposed! These are the same folks who do what they can to influence our elections with money, and when not successful, send in teams of lobbyists to write and influence legislation, and clean up where they might have missed.Corporate war-mongers are about Control, and Jane’s actions represented Control shifting to the peoples views, something not to be allowed.

  8. …they just HAD to destroy Jane’s credibility.

    Funny. Nixon’s positions on the dikes and possible nuclear weapons were never attacked so vehemently and consistently and widely as Jane.

    In fact, Nixon’s demise came over the implications and fallout of Watergate, not his war crimes — something absolutely inadmissible to the US media. Such implications are to be dealt with severely, as we see today with the Wikileaks. Tell me, what has changed?

  9. In your paragraph about why you sat on the anti-aircraft gun, I find it interesting how you blame the Vietnamese, how you were tired, the translator, blah blah blah. You don’t even take personal responsibility for sitting on it. You keep making excuses for your behavior and blaming external entities for your actions.

    You were in your early 30’s when you did this. You sound like a 12 year old who just got caught by her parents doing something wrong and are blaming everybody else for why you did it. Even in the opening paragraph you say, “You regret allowing your picture to be taken”, YET YOU DON’T SAY YOU REGRET SITTING ON THE GUN!!! Amazing to me, but I guess I can’t expect more from someone who has committed Treason.

    I see you are still confused by what is Treason and what is a war protest. Let me try and clear this up for you.

    Treason-In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more serious acts of betrayal of one’s sovereign or nation. A citizens actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].” In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavour.

    Protest-A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy.

    Have you forgotten there’s still news video on the internet showing you making a speech and insulting Nixon and supporting Socialism? Why don’t you swing by YouTube and watch a few of those old news reels.

    Or how about the news reels with you saying how proud you were of the Vietnamese that they shot down B52 bombers. What if one of those soldiers flying that plane was your dad? People lose on both sides of the war Hanoi Jane. The American Soldier’s family over he was innocent too and they lost their dads, sons, husbands, brothers, uncles and nephews. A lot of people suffered here. A lot! And especially, thanks to people like you, the American Soldiers who were drafted into that war.

    Sincerely,
    A proud American mom with a BA and a dad who was a WWII vet and someone who knows the difference between a protest and treason.

    Carolyn Seaver

    • I have said from the start that I accept responsibility for what I did wrong. I have attempted to put it in context. I am sorry for your pain

      • you say you accept responsibility for what you did wrong, but your excuse making article and book demonstrate otherwise. you haven’t accepted full responsibility for putting US servicemen in danger of torture and DEATH due to your misguided lack of thought. you continue to deny your involvement in undermining our war effort. shame on you. if you think you did nothing wrong, WHAT WERE YOU DOING THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

        http://youtu.be/F67C8yzww_Y

        • Kmeesey, I cannot accept responsibility for things I did not do. If you choose to continue to believe the lies that is your choice. And ‘what was I doing there in the first place?’ Did you read my blog post? Maybe not. I went to try and stop the U.S. bombing of the dikes and help end the war.

    • Oh carolyn…are you one of those righteous religious right people who are the first to cast a stone …and hold a grudge???Jane is way more then the rebel you see in the picture..(there were allot of rebels)and we did care about the soldiers, not the war…if the protests wouldn’t of happened(and there were many) our soldiers would probably still be there..

    • Lady, I sure hope you’re on top of getting Bush and Cheney in jail for their actual treason. Or did you miss the part where lying to the nation to get us into a war that cost half a million innocent lives is also treason?

      IMO, Ms Fonda’s apologies extend to those soldiers emotionally wounded by whatever mistakes she may have made, and not to right wing nut cakes who have little grasp on reality and think it’s perfectly okay for ONE bomber pilot to rain death on an entire village of women and children. Where is your outrage for that? Hm? It’s okay to bomb women and children, but not okay to be outraged by that?
      Your priorities are very confused.

      I hope you realize your confusion before you meet your maker.

  10. Your a better writer than her.

  11. Mrs Fonda,

    I was 13 years old during the time of your Hanoi trip. Personally, I think it was a brave jesture to jump out there against this war. Being against the war is in no way being against our soldiers fighting in foreign countries. That was ever so true with Vietnam where young men were drafted & had no choice to be put into harms way.
    You have suffered for many years needlessly over Hanoi. Personally, I never thought ill of your trip but – I was 13 at the time & not in full command of the hub-bub it caused.
    We are waging senseless wars today as well. I wish more people would step out of their comfort zones & speak out about bringing our troops home now.
    Iraq was a lie. Afghanistan is a lost cause. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Mission complete. Come home. But, no one is listening. It’s sad. I don’t understand why people seemingly don’t care.
    Regards,

  12. Ms Fonda,

    The conceit that you retain is that your heart was pure and you cared about the pain of the soldiers and the citizens, therefor your actions were noble.

    But the truth is that you prolonged the war, as stated by the North Vietnamese generals, because you gave them hope that the resolve of the United States to defend South Vietnam would be eroded from within.

    And once North Vietnam did surrender and sign the peace accords, it was people like you in the Congress and the media who abandoned the South Vietnamese, withheld our military support, and allowed them to be overrun by the Communists.

    Thousands died because of you Miss Fonda. The only reason you confess to your “two minutes of bad judgement” is because there is a picture of it that you cannot escape. You continue to exhibit bad judgement to this day. But I’m sure you are a very well meaning person. You are simply a dupe.

    • Robert, if you knew anything about Vietnamese history, you would know that they certainly didn’t need my help to win the war…they won their war against the French, Chinese, Mongols…they were fighting for national independence. We were fighting for the wrong reasons and perhaps that is one reason why we did not win. I am appalled and saddened that you have so little understanding of the realities of what happened. Responsible for 1000s of deaths? You think? I didn’t start the war, i didn’t determine the policy that, even the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara had the guts to admit was based on false premises. BEfore he was assassinated, President Kennedy was saying to his aides that we couldn’t win. That’s the tragedy that is revealed in the Pentagon Papers –that for 5 administrations, war experts and others were telling their presidents that we couldn’t win, that we weren’t winning and yet the presidents kept sending men to die. Me responsible?!! enough already

      • dear jane,

        can i translate your statement on your visit to hanoi into german for our magazine marx21?

        thanks in advance
        dave

        • David, if you are very careful to translate it accurately

  13. Ms Fonda

    I’m only 33, but I am an Iraq war vet. I spent Christmas 2009 in Baghdad. Anyway, I wanted to let you know, in case others have not, that there is one Vietnam POW out there who does let people know about some of the truth of your activities in North Vietnam. He is a Retired Air Force Lt Col who spent 7 years in Hanoi. He came to our LDS meetinghouse in Abilene TX in 2007 to give a lecture about his experiences as a POW in Hanoi. At the end of his remarks he went out of his way to let us know that the story about you giving notes from POWs to the guards is not true. He said that he didn’t like that you visited North Vietnam, but we needed to know that that story was not true and it was a discredit to POWs every time it was repeated. I won’t share his name here publicly but will do so privately if we should ever meet face to face. (You know you want to visit Alaska 🙂 )

    Cheers!

  14. Jason, I’m sure you are familiar with the truism, “The truth shall set you free.” yes? Well, those who have believed the lies need to be freed. And veterans and their families need to know that I am deeply sorry for the pain I cause them with that terrible photograph. I accept responsibility for what I did wrong and for the hurt that caused. I know from experience that forgiveness is a healing, beautiful thing…for the forgiven and for the forgiver.

    • Yes, ma’am. Forgiveness is a healing balm.
      Recently saw one of your movies, “Comes A Horseman” with Farnsworth and Caan. Enjoyed the heck out of those brushpoppin’ scenes of roundin’ up cattle in the pines. Woulda made your dad proud.

      Dennis

      • Dennis, yea, thanks, and I did it myself..the rounding up, the lassooing, I even branded.

  15. I am still mad at you for conning all those poor women with your workout tapes. Some might call you a terrific business woman but to some of us you are a charlatan. Peace be with you and have a good life.

  16. So if a comment didn’t make it do we resubmit it. I did take some time to compose it because I felt there is no such thing as too much support for you.

    Buzz
    Solvang, CA

  17. Dear Jane –

    I am so sorry you’re still having to explain yourself and apologize now, more than 40 years later, and there are still people who don’t believe you. You know the truth, and God knows the truth, and that’s the only thing that truly matters.

    My father did two tours in Vietnam (1965/66 and 1970/71) and he never spoke against you — in fact, he was a big fan, as is my mother and myself. My father didn’t agree with the war, but he had no choice but to fight in it. He was a helicopter pilot who flew more than 2,500 missions and thankfully made it back in relatively one piece. His life ended early because of that war, too — he died from lung cancer in September 2007, due to exposure from Agent Orange.

    There were many things wrong about the war, but it happened and there is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is hope it doesn’t happen again.

    I wish you well in all your future endeavors and will always be a big fan.

    Take care and God Bless,
    Kris (Harnage) Phillips
    Daughter of CW2 Thomas A. Harnage,
    U.S. Army, “UH1 Aviator – Above the Best”

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.43100527162.66457.591627162&l=927f242f2c&type=1

  18. Jane, I look back at that time, i am now 74 years old, spent 5 years in the navy and i remember when the veterans came home from that terrible war, they were spit on and treated like criminals. I was so angry at seeing that knowing that President Johnson started the war and President nixon ended it. Neither of those gentlemen were right. I’m sorry that you were used as a pawn. Your mistake was going there in the first place. War is hell period, I went in at the end of the Koren conflict, I talked to many men who were there and I know a few who died for a conflict? At least, you have finally come out and explained your reasoning behind what took place. People will either accept it or they won’t. Enjoy your life (On Golden Pond) my favorite.

    Roy

  19. The veterans of Viet Nam say U.S. soldiers did not “lose” the war, that U.S. politicians “lost” the war in Viet Nam.
    By “lost”, they mean the names on The Wall in D.C. and the names we will never know who died at the hands of the U.S. politicians who left them to the mercy of the North Viet Nam Communists when the “last plane out” took off.
    Christians left behind prepared their members to die according to sponsoring U.S. church members in communication with their South Viet Namese missionaries.
    Saving U.S. military lives by pulling them out of Viet Nam sounded admirable, but all decisions have consequences and that while many thought the price of staying in Vietnam was too high, they should not ignore or dismiss the price others paid when we left.

    ‘NamWife

  20. 1. Why didn’t you admit your bulimia while pushing those exercise tapes and making a fortune? It was terrible making women believe exercise was the answer. I cannot believe after decades of bulimia that you would choose hours of exercise in cute outfits with your name on it! This was an appalling thing to do to women.

    2. YT has your own words which are irrefutable.
    3. Your unacceptable apology was unbelievable and was forced, it seemed.

    4. Why didn’t you go with Bob Hope? How do you dismiss your “FTA” tour as an answer to Bob Hope’s USO tour?

    5. Are you implying that the soldiers who died at the Hanoi Hilton died of humane causes? What about the ones who lived to tell the truth of what really happened?

    6. Your attack on QVC “It is unconscionable that extremist groups circulate letters which accuse me of horrific things….” is absurd considering all the examples of your extremist views that are easily accessible. In fact, there is more evidence of your inexcusable behavior out there than any good deeds you might have done.

    7. If there were an ounce of truth in any of your “regrets” why do the soldiers still hate you so much? They were there and surely they would know the truth better than you. Why won’t they forgive your “youthful” (30’s is hardly youthful) indiscretion?

    • What a hateful person you are. I am sorry about that. You make so many accusations but haven;t taken the time to investigate.
      I write in my memoir about being bulimic.I write about how I had stopped my addiction several years before I launched my Workout business. I called myself a ‘dry drunk’..ie. I was no longer engaging in my addictive behavior but I had not healed. I have written many times about how the workout helped me heal…as it did many women.

      I have read the book written by some of the most Hawkish POWs and they say that torture stopped in NV in 1969. Have you read their books? Have you talked to POWs? I have. So do your homework.

      • Dear Jane, It hurts me that people are being so rude to you. Please ignore people like that. Please do not allow them to hurt you.
        Earlier, I tried sending a comment but something went wrong and I seemed to have lost the page. So, I tried again. Still not sure you got the entire thing. Sorry. Love to you.

  21. Firstly, when you went I thought it was GREAT!

    That’s just awful, Jane. You do, I hope realize, that humans who believe insanely vile lies will not be persuaded by the truth if the facts do not coincide with their, ingrained, madness. Most of the people have been fixed with such unreasonableness by acts such as *deleted by myself*.

    The gun photo, yep, dumb.

    I did a, long lost, comedy bit about Nixon’s missing eighteen minutes. It was Nixon and his cronies thinkin’ of a way to relate to “The Kids.” They came-up the idea to form a band and played “Helter-Skelter.” I didn’t say it was a GREAT idea.

    Summer of ’72 I had just graduated high school and was “Given”
    (I still ain’t gotten a straight answer about HOW I got the job. I figured south west PA. had few war protesters and I sent Nixon a letter. I figured they just wanted to keep an eye on myself.)
    a job at a Army Crops of Engineers Lock & Dam. I did think, “How can I work for these folks when I’m against the war?” Ever been to SW PA.? Jobs a plenty there ain’t and the SDS, nor anyone else, made me an offer.

    Oh yeah, sayin’ the POWs were liars, not PolySci savvy.
    Just today, I’m having (as always) a bit of battle…I had to dis a dude who is an Iranian War vet BUT I also quickly added, “…Lee Harvey Oswald was a vet, wasn’t he?”
    This was to a person that addressed me as, “You people.”

    Oh yeah, WWII crap. When I was at Lock #7, Mon. River, we were raking leaves (It was a very slow river traffic day) at the Lock Master’s government house. There were WWII vets and moi, that was it there. One guy starts telling me of the time his outfit was in France and they had captured 3 German soldiers. His officer told him and five other Gis to load the Germans into a truck, take them to the POW camp and BE BACK IN TWENTY MINUTES. The POW camp was 40 minutes away. They were back in 20 minutes.
    Tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-tha that’s War, folks.

    I am going to give your blog a posting at me wee fan club ‘cause I thought your visit (minus the gun thingy & that was just stewpud) was an honorable attempt.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tor_Hershman/
    I’ve got to keep my blog (July 3rd posting) open for a battle on my/our own. They’ve never come at me/we with cops that are officially recognized, warrant-less, home-invaderes before.

    Well, may random chance seem to help (Of course it will not) ease the lies told about yourself and all peoples of unjustly accused.

    Stay on groovin’ safari,
    Tor Hershman

  22. Dear Jane, Certainly you did a thorough job of telling this in My Life So Far, but perhaps this even more in depth telling will reach more eyes and ears via this medium. I know I am sharing it on my social media venues. I do wonder what it was like for you– on an emotional level- to once again have to dive into this …and I am sorry that you had to. It is well past time for this, which never should have started, to end. But I do admire your strength, tremendously.

    Interesting the things we create unknowingly, in a split second of life, and then must carry with us thru life—I don’t think it is random at all. And while I am sorry that this has been an issue in your life for so very long (because I admire you for your stance during the War and all you did to seek out the truth and bring awareness to others), I don’t think the Universe would have ‘given’ it to you if you were not strong enough to bear the load, and if there were not some greater cause behind it.

    I do hope that this can someday end, that people can sit with the truth, for you and for them.

    • Lyn, I have never minded apologizing for the mistake I made. I feel sorry for those wo hate and feel the need to spread lies and for those who need to believe them.

  23. Oh that is ripe Robert. Ya, I saw Jane over there strangling them bare-handed.

    The war NEVER ended OK?

    What is the difference between then and now. As far as I’m concerned, and I’ve been interviewed on my views, again the US invades the east. Again the propaganda – pretending Bin Laden was alive to toss Pak into upheaval, leave Afghan, and surround who?

    Right from the get go it was Iran – they’re patient – lots more kids where these came from, again.

    I shared how a friend of mind killed himself for what his officers told him to do in Cambodia on this site. Everyone makes mistakes – use your energy constructively – put you back where you’re mouth is, and make a difference.

    You sound like a dupe of the US govt, and if so, you my friend, shall be rudely awakened some day soon.

  24. Put another way, the US control the media (or vice versa) for the war machine. I not even going to bother finding references for that.

    What do you think their spin would be on this issue? Duh.

    Those people, noth and south, were simply the same folk,both fighting for their lives. It was the bigger powers prolonging the war, and murdering people.

    I feel sick,
    Later

  25. I am a conservative, but a mover and shaker. I have always felt you were painted in the wrong light and felt like the nuts portrayed you wrongly. I knew you had visited the troops before. You supported the men if not the war. I am a disabled vet 1962 – 1966. Intelligent people can offer their opinions their views and come to agreements. I see both sides and respect other peoples opinions and realize that mine is not always right. So stay hip, stay young, and stay focused. We may be on opposite sides, but isn’t it a blast? Rock on!

    BJ

    • Oh BJ, what a beautiful comment! I so agree with you. Thanks.

  26. Ms. Fonda, I am a 1st generation American. My Mother was born in Ireland and came to NY on a ship all alone when she was 18. My Father came with his parents and siblings from Scotland when he was 12.
    I am so grateful to the USA for what this Country enabled them to do and become, and through them, what I was able to achieve. I loved the USA SO much that even though my heart was with them, I could NOT participate with the anti-was protesters or with the civil rights marchers. I just didn’t feel right criticizing my Government, until Agnew and Nixon.
    I heard about QVC bouncing you and I admit I smiled. Then today, someone posted on my FaceBook page your TRUTH ABOUT MY TRIP TO HANNOI.
    I am so ashamed for believing all of the lies that were told about you. I had 3 particular reasons for disliking you and coincidentally each was addressed in your blog.
    It’s one thing to slander someone, but to make money from it is disgusting. I NEVER donated a cent to any of these worthless organizations. And I’m proud to tell you that I am a strident activist for all kinds of causes, and I assure you whenever I have the chance, I will behave like this new JANE FONDA FAN!
    Thanks so much for your service to our Country!
    Most sincerely,
    Malcolm J Blue/CA

    • Thank you Malcolm. A beautiful comment. My grandson is also named Malcolm…his father is Scottish.

  27. I remember the Vietnam war a little bit different then you Jane. I also remember the Hollywood types, you know like the ones we have today. You are all so against anything to do with our country and the wars that this country fights.You are all so smart and informed. Do any of the actors or actresses children go to war? Nope. Did any of the children of the stars ever go to war? Nope, just you Jane. How sad what you did to our men. You will never live what you did down. You disgraced your Father and he died with your smear on his soul. I know that this will not be put up on your blog with the false letters that you put there, but I will feel better for at last having a chance to tell you.Please know that the Hollywood stars of today are just as hateful. You people have it all and give nothing back to this country that was so good to you and yours. Our children die in war after war. I a true American, will never forget what was the truth of what Hanoi Jane did and all of the other Americans of that era who treated our service men and women so horrid.May you always have the nightmares that you so deserve.I do hope that your Father has found the peace that he so deserved.When you see others of your ilk be sure to tell them we know who they are too.

    • Sorry you feel this way, Karen. Harboring this much hate is a heavy burden to carry through life. Clearly your mind is firmly made up about so many things so I won’t try to explain anything more about me or my fellow actors. If only you knew the good so many of them do–when they don’t have to, when they gain nothing themselves from it. I am sorry for you.

      • Jane, great reply. You are a class act and I love how you don’t take any garbage from people.

        I have a sister who thinks exactly like that woman and she’s blocked me from her and her kids’ life because of her hateful perspective on people who are anti war, but not anti soldier (among other issues we don’t see eye to eye on). I don’t understand why they are incapable of seeing the difference and being aware of the hate that is poisoning their hearts…
        They are so blind and cannot ever be persuaded to opening their hearts and seeing either that they are wrong or that it’s okay to share dissimilar views without hating the other person and calling her names.

        Seriously, you are amazing!

  28. The transcript of Nixon and Kissinger is very damaging. However, since you were “outraged that there had been no homecoming celebrations” for American soldiers returning from Viet Nam in 1973, did you share this publicly at the time? If not, why not? You certainly had the attention of the world media. I can’t help but mull over the fact that you have the freedom to vindicate yourself 24/7 via print and electronic media but there is no free speech, free press, or freedom of religion in today’s Viet Nam.

    • …I don’t know about what you claim to be the reality in Vietnam today. I know that private enterprise thrives and that there is deep forgiveness…ask any American (including the vets who go back) who have been there and there are thousands who now enjoy the beauty of Vietnam as tourists. What interested me and so moved me when I was there in 1972 was that, even under our bombs, they did not hate Americans…Johnson, maybe, and Nixon…those responsible for the war. And obviously, when engaged in combat they fought and killed our men. Interesting. We, as a nation, should try to understand why.

  29. One of the posters on here mentioned Kim Phuc, the young Vietnamese girl running naked down a street screaming whose photograph was shown around the world in 1972. (This was in Trang Bang, South Vietnam.) The poster accused U.S. forces of dropping the napalm that burned her. This is a lie. The napalm was dropped by a South Vietnamese pilot who hit the wrong target (he currently lives in the U.S.) At that time, the terrible “accident was immediately and correctly reported by U.S. and world news organizations,” but changed later. In the 1990s, a Vietnam vet who had become ordained as a Methodist minister began claiming he was the one who had “ordered” the strike. He even met with Kim Phuc asking for her forgiveness and received much publicity around the world. However, there were no American forces serving in Trang Bang at the time of the napalm strike, which has been confirmed by the photographer who took the photo, by his AP Bureau Chief, by Plummer’s entire chain of command, by all sources on the ground at the time of the incident, and by the U.S. military’s declassified documents. Plummer served in Vietnam but he was 50-miles away from the napalm strike. He has embellished and changed his story many times over the years since a private investigator and journalists who had swallowed his story began to investigae his background. Read “The Fraud Behind the Girl in the Photo” by Ronald N. Timberlake. (By the way, Kim Phuc defected out of communist Vietnam to Canada after the regime burned down her church in the 1980s.)

    • Sorry Kim Harvey, but you got some of the Kim Phuc story wrong. Her church was never burned down, Vietnam financed her college degree in Cuba, where she met a Canadian she married and was given Canadian citizenship.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Th%E1%BB%8B_Kim_Ph%C3%BAc
      The fact the pilot was South Vietnamese does not alter the fact he was flying a US plane, dropped US made napalm, and was coordinated and trained by the US as well. The real question was how only monsters could ever use napalm, not that this particular village was hit.

  30. I posted on my Facebook page this “blog” about Jane Fonda —

    I am a Vietnam veteran. I spent most of the year of 1969 on a US Navy destroyer running up and down the coast lending gunfire support to our Army and Marine personnel. Prior to joining the Navy I was apolitical. I did not pay attention, nor was I interested in “politics”. But, I knew enough to know that if I did not enlist, I would be drafted and I’d be sent off to Vietnam for my senior trip. In those days, boys from wealthy families went off to college, and those from poorer families went off to war. But, it was my citizen duty, and I went.

    Upon my return to the States, I was radicalized for a few years, smoked dope (they don’t call it “dope” for no reason), and succumbed to the notion that sooner or later we’d all be stoned and we’d all be drinking that free Bubble-Up and mankind would be at peace. I know… drugs give you a false sense of reality.

    But I was a seeker of truth, and the answers I was seeking were not found in the dead eyes of my hippie comrades. Today, 41 years after returning from my service to Uncle Sam, I am a strong believer in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, a strict constructionist, not the slithery, relativistic “living document” that leftists believe in, but based upon the INTENT of the founding fathers and their writings. I love my country, and I fly Old Glory whenever I can. Why did I change my worldview so radically? The short answer is… I invited Christ into my life and my heart. I started reading the Holy Bible. And I began to understand what God expects of Christians from His Own Words, not what other “men” told me about Him.

    So, why did I mention Jane Fonda? Because she is a lightning rod for all that happened in America and Vietnam, and the wounds are still open today. About two million Americans were sent to that far-off land by the U.S. government, and those who returned were scarred forever, as was our whole nation. But, in those days, our returning servicemen and women were not welcomed back with open arms and a grateful” Thank you for your service”. We were welcomed back to epithets of “Baby Killers!” and spat upon by our fellow citizens. I went to college and was literally shunned by my classmates when they found out I was a ‘Nam vet. A poison had been turned loose on our society, and it infected millions of Americans. That poison still exists today, in the political chasm that divides liberals and conservatives, minorities and whites, rich and poor, Christians and atheists, democrats and republicans.

    We may disagree on WHY this animosity came about, but I am heartsick at the vitriol that abounds, and the wounds inflicted by the words we toss around so thoughtlessly at our fellow citizens. Let us consider Jane Fonda. She has endured for 40 years the same sort of venomous hatred that Sarah Palin is now enduring since her “coming out of obscurity” in 2007. I cannot tell you how many times I have received emails detailing Fonda’s betrayal of POW’s in Hanoi, when they supposedly slipped her notes which she dutifully turned over to their captors. Then there was that photo of her sitting in the seat of that anti-aircraft gun, smiling, and wearing a helmet, and her anti-war activities back home. But, somewhere along the line, I heard rumors that she had “become a Christian” and that Ted Turner had divorced her because of her “conversion” to Christianity. Who knew what to believe? Being a “convert” myself, my heart softened a little toward this woman we all loved to hate. That was many years ago, but I see the vitriol toward Jane, and toward Sarah, has not diminished, but instead grown more virulent.

    Today, I happened upon the website called janefonda.com http://janefonda.com/the-truth-about-my-trip-to-hanoi/comment-page-2/#comments
    She blogs about “The truth about my trip to Hanoi”, where she describes and apologizes for some of the foolish things she did, and also refutes many of the stories that have been told which she says are simply not true, but which have been repeated over and over for 40 years. I also read many of the comments below her blog, where we see the same vitriolic words repeated over and over from her supporters and her detractors, but not from Jane herself.

    And then, she wrote in answer to a comment, “I became a christian in 1998 and have read with fascination the writings of Elaine Pagels, Stephen Michaels (“The Gospel of Jesus”) and everything I can find about the Gospel of Mary. I often imagine how today’s extremists would react to Jesus.” Now, I don’t know about those other books she read, but I just saw her say, “I became a Christian in 1998”. Well, I became a Christian in 1974. People know when Christ comes into their lives, because their heart changes. They see the world differently. Their language becomes tempered. Mainly, to be a follower of Jesus means you turn loose of bitterness and hate. If you do not, there would be no evidence to convict you of being a Christian.

    So, I wish to state that from here on out, I no longer hate Jane Fonda. She made some terrible mistakes. So have I. She still harbors leftist beliefs. I harbor conservative beliefs. She could have said, “I can’t take this any longer!” and put a bullet through her brain. But she did not… she has walked upright and carried on with her life, knowing that she has a forgiving Savior. I carry on, knowing I have a forgiving Savior, too.

    Dennis Knill
    Non-hyphenated American

    • Dennis, this is a beautiful post. Thank you for your honesty and forgiveness.

  31. Dear Jane,

    A terrific effort to “clear the air.” Thank you.

    The slander and slaughter propaganda machine has a well-greased engine and truth is rarely a defense against it. Today, more than any other time in human history, the masses must wake up. The S&S propaganda is tasteful to the billions of humans drunk on the “cool-aid” …having been fed to them for so long.

    Your efforts during those past times, your experiences and the knowledge acquired, woke you up. Your public image was for being “all against” when your heart screamed for what you were “all for.” Today, that same voice for what you are “all for” will resonate more than ever…billions this time. Please use it more, even louder than before, without the fear of S&S, cool-aid and reprisal.

    Remember that real peace can only be found where there is no fear. So let the dogs bark at old food, let them howl for what they are against…your message, your voice. Surrender soul-ly for all you are for. That is your gift of freedom from the rhetoric of the past and your regrets.

    My best to you Miss Jane.

    James Taylor III

  32. BTW: Jane, I’ve found it to be OH SOOOOO TRUE that, “The Turth will piss Them off;” that is all.

    Stay on groovin’ safari,
    Tor

  33. Jane, I admire those who at least stand up in this life. Time, has shown you were right. To all your dissenters: All your justified hate for the death and maiming of your loved ones, should be directed toward conniving foul criminals like Nixon, and his ilk — all psychopaths on some level, who have no regard for human life. In 2005, thru declassified information, it’s found that the Gulf of Tonkin incident (used to upgrade the war) didn’t even happen. And previous to that, in 1999, a retired senior CIA agent stated, “the White House was interested only in confirmation of an attack, not that there was no such attack.” YES, our troops fought bravely in an unbelievable hell, and were not given the services they deserved upon their return. Interestingly, after Vietnam, several countries bid on sections of its offshore coastal territory…our Oil Company, Standard Oil, was the only one whose choice was found to have vast reserves. How lucky. Makes one wonder. What might we learn? Don’t project who you are, and your heart, and your values, onto others. They may not deserve it. In this life, do something. Help who you can, and speak up; right or wrong time will tell. Sadly, Earth is not a place for justice. But in balance, life continues after “death,” and there are consequences for all in history who’ve traded in their humanity for status, acclaim and motive. Here, the good are at a great disadvantage, and advised to be “as wise as a serpent, and as harmless as a dove.” I admire Jane. However it came out..She had it in her heart to do right. She loves deeply, and she tried. Was she perfect? Are you? When I think of all the casualties, I wish we had the peace she wanted. I wish the horror had never escalated into such a larger hell. We all feel it deeply in our chests don’t we? It hurts so badly. The nurses said of the seriously wounded, “they were just as little boys again, and crying out loudly for their mothers, Mommy, Mommy.”

    • Orion, clearly you’ve done your homework. thanks

  34. Jane, I have re-posted your statement and attached my comments. Thank you for the invite!

  35. Thank you for this extensive report. Fascinating read.

    Now, you say that no torture is ever justified, so here’s my question:

    According to media reports, Anders Breivik, the Norway shooter told police he hadn’t acted alone, and that some of his extremist buddies are still out there preparing further attacks.

    Would you give orders to waterboard the guy to try and elicit information that may lead to the capture of those he was referring to before they could strike again?

    Or would you maintain your no-torture-under-any-circumstances stance because you feel that he’s either (a) lying about not having acted alone, or (b) that he’d only provide phony information under coerced interrogation anyway?

    If you were in charge, what would you do?

    • I would not torture, Cyberquill, no. I have read too many reports saying that the information the military gets via torture cannot be trusted.

  36. Hello Jane,

    Finally found a way to reach you after all these years.

    Your trip to Hanoi was preceded by treason and treachery.

    Here are minutes of National Security meetings in which the President LBJ ordered members of the NSC to cease and desist all support for the Khmer Serie Cambodian government in exile in South Vietnam.

    These documents blatantly show the NSC members of the government inside the government defying a president during wartime.

    http://johnmccarthy90066.tripod.com/id258.html

    The State Department declassified these documents in 2000 much to the angst and chagrin of the CIA who also defied the president.

    Here is the nexus.

    http://johnmccarthy90066.tripod.com/id1.html

    These documents show that the United States did not want the war in Vietnam to end but to continue despite the efforts of it’s military forces.

    Those who dismiss your efforts in your trip to Hanoi were (are) still under the impression that the Tonkin Gulf actually happened and that the Americans were on a crusade to bring democracy to a country that was in the middle of a revolution because of the skullduggery on the part of the US government.

    Bests,
    John McCarthy
    310 397 1143 In Los Angeles.
    [email protected]

    • Thank you, John, for your efforts to get the real story. People ask me if I am surprised about the vitriol that continues around Vietnam and the answer is ‘no’ because I know that so many, way too many, have never understood the full history of the war. It is so hard, painful, to admit that our own government lied to us and sent our young men into a quagmire that could not be won.

  37. I love you and I respect you greatly! I admire your strength, your wisdom, and your heart. You’re an inspiration to women as well as humans in general. Thanks for being you!

  38. Jane, my comments will be both complimentary and critical. My biggest admiration for you is that you had to courage to be an activist, and not just for some wimpy cause either. You gotta love an activist, period. And you obviously are a caring person with a big heart who was trying to reduce human suffering from war. So I do hold you dear even though I have some criticism and disagreement. While you were keen to the human sufferings and atrocities of the ‘Nam war, I think that you (as well as the other war resistors) seemed to miss the bigger picture, which was that Stalin and then his successors in the leadership of Russia were backing gov’ts globally as best they could to advance the economic cut off of America as a means of conquering us. We were countering this with by backing gov’ts to try to spread democracy, in the belief that this is the only way to bring permanent peace because history shows that free people will never vote for war, so giving people the vote globally equates with no more war. Makes sense to me. I believe that we were trying to create a North/South experiment in ‘Nam, as we have with the North/South Koreas, and had with the East/West Germanies; by experiment I mean that time would tell whether people are happier and have a better standard of living on the US backed side democratic side of those “experiments”, or would people fare better on the communist backed side. A fair test IMHO. But we were opposed in ‘Nam not by an elected leader, but by just another dictator, who claimed to be a liberator who (of course) claims he is acting in the interest of peace, liberty… hey, did he copy that from our constitution to appeal to the more gullible Americans to gain trust? We have a history of advancing democracy; if we did not then we would be outnumbered by the opposing advancing communism with no democracy. I’ve never feared the concept of communism, but it’s just that when Russia is backing it there will be no democracy. If our attempt at a North/South division had been successful, I believe we would have seen the same thing in ‘Nam as we eventually would see in East/West Germany, and North/South Korea, and that is that the people are happier and eat better and generally fare better with democracy and self-rule. So, in summary, you’ve got to view the ‘Nam war from the bigger perspective. It’s easy to be critical of our leaderships decisions now in hindsight (to include McNamara’s criticism of himself), but to be fair we need to consider that our leaders were decent people doing the best they could with what they had to work with at the time. None of our leaders were “murderous psycopaths” bent on war atrocities, but were people of decent values trying to strategize the survival of democracy against some savage forces with savage methods. FDR said going into WW2 that the world must be made safe for democracy, and I believe that was the bigger picture in ‘Nam that the war resisters fail to see. And I totatally agree with Winston Churchill who said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” But make no mistake Jane, I do love you for your big heart and admire you for your courage to be an activist. Even if I don’t agree with a particular activists cause, I still admire the activist, and in this case that would be you:) Oh, and did I mention that I think you’re really attractive? We should debate this further over drinks sometime (wink)

    • Robert, I do appreciate the time you put into your comment. I understand, I think, where you are coming from. Two big problems, as I see it, with or “Vietnam Experiment.” !.) You say, “I believe that we were trying to create a North/South experiment in ‘Nam, as we have with the North/South Koreas, and had with the East/West Germanies; by experiment I mean that time would tell whether people are happier and have a better standard of living on the US backed side democratic side of those “experiments”, or would people fare better on the communist backed side.” Problem was, the South Vietnam leaders we chose to carry out our experiment. They were straw dogs, dictators, who were propped up by our government and our tax dollars, not by popular support. That is why they had to persecute, jail, put into tiger cages (made by U.S. companies) so many who were protesting their regimes…Buddhists, professionals, students…we’re not talking about communists here. Buddhists burned themselves alive in protest. Diem was so corrupt and disliked by the South Vietnamese the U.S. had to collude in his assassination. One of the points McNamara made in his book is that the U.S. government, including him, thought most Vietnamese were Catholics and so we chose Catholics to be the Presidents of South Vietnam. Only after the fact did he discover that 90% of the Vietnam are (were) Buddhists!
      #2) Who are we to decide to cut a country in two? To experiment with how another people will be governed?

      • Thanks for your very informative reply. I rather expected that my original post might be censored out entirely, and was most impressed that you met me with no censorship and instead put up some impressive discourse. Clearly, in your reply, you cast a lot of light on how miserably we failed in the gov’t we did prop up, to a degree that is mind boggling, and pretty much doomed and wasted our efforts and sacrifices, so your point is taken there. I had seen Robert McNamara in the film “Fog Of War”, but did not know about his book out until reading your reply, and I will add that book to my “must read” list, thx. From where I stand now, it appears to me that you and he are probably the most effective messengers of important aspects of the war that the general US public is woefully unaware of. BTW I am glad to have learned, at the top of your blog, your side of what happened with your visit to the POWs etc. that has had such an unfair and negative spin in the media; I experienced quite a rush of anger let go and forgiveness toward you (I like your philosphy on forgiveness BTW) and it was a nice feeling of relief, and rather suprised me because I didn’t realize that I even had some burden there, really, until it was let go, but I dont want to get all mushy (it’s a guy thing) so can we talk about the weather instead? 🙂 I’m not one much for posting, but I’ve saved this blog as a FAVORITE and I’ll look forward to reading and learning and expanding my views.

  39. I’m not American and every time I read comments about the war by Americans I am appauled to say the least. I do not understand the fascination or pride with making people suffer. The soldiers are definitely not to blame. They were sent to war or even if they chose to go to war they grew up believing it was the right thing to do. But you must understand at some point – and this is just the way I feel after witnessing the fascination with the war in Iraq – that hatred and violence is never the answer. How can you be saving people when you are killing them? Have you asked them whether they want to be saved by you? – by war? Don’t just look at the propaganda. Unfortunately it’s not all idealistic. And even if it were, when idealistic actions lead to thousands of deaths one probably needs to rethink what is indeed worth “fighting” for. I am sorry for the slightly off-topic comment but it’s just my reaction after reading a number of extreme and even sentimental (understandably so) opinions. But still, there is nothing to be proud of in war. Perhaps it is because you have never experienced war in your country. I have. Solely the insecurity of war, not knowing what might happen to you, your family or neighbour the next minute is mere torture. War should never be glorified in any way.

  40. Doth protest too much, Jane .. just say you were young & naive & you are now sorry ..

    I forgive you..

    • But Linda, how many countries have we invaded since Vietnam? That includes Panama, Grenada, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Iraq, and we paid to cause the military takeover in Chile. I will leave out Somalia, Serbia, and a few others. The point being is that we still don’t seem to get it, that murder of innocent citizens of other countries is wrong. Jane may feel compelled to apologize for the cannon picture, but we must never apologize for being against the murder of innocent civilians.

  41. I read your blog about the QVC cancellation with shock, and then awe at the grace and wisdom with which you have dealt with it. It is crazy seeing the machinations of big money politics at work.
    However, one thing irked me; your comment: “I didn’t know yet that among the photographers there were some Japanese.” Can you please clarify what on earth that means?

    • Rebekah, Yes, it occurred to me that could be confusing. I asked my Vietnamese translator as I walked away from the gun to make sure the photos that were taken (I assumed all by Vietnamese photographers) would be destroyed and he said he would do that. Later I was told that there were Japanese photographers there as well and that it was possibly one of them who released the photo.

  42. Jane, I’m sorry to say I’m one of those who believed the lies. I should have known better. I’m sorry. Thank you for this blog, my sister sent it to me. What a great way to get your truth out.

  43. Oh course, the entire point of the Vietnam War was to make the folk within the USSR soooooo skeert of the CraZy AmEricaNs, who else but the insane would wage such a bloody, useless war,
    (Ain’t fear their favorite weapon?)
    that they would never consider overthrowing their CCCP government, it was a most successfully carried-out scheme, too.

    “Tear down the wall,” by Jefferson Airplane not the Strategically Dead Icon

    As it states in the parody song “Oh, Osama,”
    “. . .commies are gone
    another group needed for the war crew
    Oh, Osama
    There’s no need for Jihad
    There ain’t a heaven with virgins
    And there ain’t a god.”

  44. So the US government makes up a lie (Gulf of Tonkin) to escalate the war in Vietnam. Purchases a drug called Agent Orange from Monsanto despite being told it is linked to cause cancer in testing, we drop it all over our servicemen, Vietnamese people and farmland. My Lai..don’t even get me started, illegal phone tapping….the list goes on and on. But Jane Fonda is apologizing?

    One of our biggest freedoms as Americans is the right to speak out against our government and question what is right and wrong and not just sit idly by. People like Daniel Ellsberg, Jane Fonda, and Ann Wright should be thanked, not expected to apologize for doing what most of us don’t do, act like an American. Someone posted that what you did was not a protest but “treason” but cited the reasoning as insulting Nixon and supporting Socialism. Insulting Nixon? Seriously? The same guy that had to resign and subsequently be pardoned by Ford? That guy? To bad more people didn’t insult him. Not to mention if I say Obama is an idiot, am I committing treason? Nope. Watch. “Obama is an idiot”. No knock at my door. And as far as supporting socialism…still not treason you can be a socialist, communist, whatever not against the law. Jane I hope this blog you have written gave yourself some therapeutic internal peace because you owe no one anything. I personally would like to thank you.

  45. Dear Jane, I was age 18 and married when the Vietnam war was raging. I remember watching the evening news, with fear and dread.It was a frightening time for most all people. My husband, Kenneth, was age 18 and was in the Army, at that time, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I remember him coming home early, around noon, one day and saying,”Pack your things. We’re going home.” So that’s what we did. (AWOL) Looking back tears fill my eyes, remembering Kenneth’s words as we walked to the Grayhound Bus Station…Two kids with one small suitcase and a duffle bage filled with all our worldly goods, “I’m being trained for Vietnam, and I don’t want to go. I don’t want to kill people that I don’t even know…and people who don’t know me. People I may like, if given a chance.” And after a brief silence he said, “I don’t want to kill people just because men in high places can’t get along.” You see…my husband was only age eighteen, as were many others, and had a very tender heart. Oh no, he was in no way a whoos, for lack of a better word…he just had such a tender heart. And he loved people. All people.I could go on and on with the misseries that that war caused, but I’ll try to make it short. You see, Kenneth’s brother, Jimmy, lost his life in Vietnam. Jimmy went there twice, and his body was never returned. We could not loose Kenneth…honor and dignity was simply not worth it. His life could not be replaced, and we could not let go. The loss of one was enough. Therefore, Kenneth spent 17 months in Levenworth, Kansas, coming home with a bad-conduct discharge. Am not ashamed…for he was alive. And, just possibly, someone else was because he wasn’t there to take there breath away. I have a friend right now who was told just last week he has only a short time to live because of agent orange..from Vietnam. He has already had a liver transplant. I ask him if he had it to do all over would he have gone to Vietnam, and he looked me right in the eye and said, “No. I would not. I still do not know why we were even there.” There are so many, too many, sad stories. Sad memories of a war that I still feel should never have been. Looking back, I feel I married a pretty bright kid…an eighteen year old who thought it best ‘not’ to take a life. I guess I just needed to share our experience. Kenneth died at age 33 from cancer, from the sun. God Bless you, Jane Fonda. P.S. Excuse mistakes…wrote through tears.

    • Vickie, I am sorry for your loss to cancer but happy that, because of his brave actions back then (willing to go to jail) you had more years together than you might have had if he had gone to war.

      When I was in North Vietnam, I visited a hospital where I saw women and children who had been exposed to Agent Orange. When the Vietnamese doctor told me how iy was sprayed, I remember saying, :This horror will come home to haunt our own soldiers and their children.” And I was right. Tragic. Would that we could learn from our mistakes. xxx jane

  46. Dear Jane,

    We knew one another almost 40 years ago in Venice, Santa Monica—the days in 1972 and 1973 when Tom had set up the IIP, then what all of you did with the IPC and more. I babysat Vanessa a couple times with RubyEllyn on Wadsworth(I lived on Horizon). When you returned from Hanoi—I think in August of ’72—you delvered the first report in my apt almost straight from LAX.

    Believe it not, I write a blog called(named by a friend) “From Jane Fonda To Judaism”—how I moved from one world to the other, even as I’ve maintained resepct and affection for those days, people and causes. You’d find it interesting I hope.

    I wrote one posting about the name of the blog—and now a second one in support of your constant and long support of soldiers: I remember your saying then what alsmost no one else did, and I’ve written about it in what I’ve sent to your site. The link is at the bottom here.

    Actually, we sat very near one another outside at the Miramar in June. You look terrrifc!

    With Best wishes,

    John Moscowitz

    http://www.holyblossom.org/2011/07/supporting-jane-fonda-the-truth-about-her-attitude-toward-american-soldiers/

    • John, wow! How great to get news of you. Thanks. A lot! xxx Jane

  47. It doesn’t matter what others think or say about you or anything written or published. What matters is you can close your own eyes at night knowing you did your best to make a difference and with that I know you must have sweet dreams.

  48. Jane,

    Thank you for writing this. I have admired and respected you for many years but had always had conflicting emotions about this topic. The few times I have met you I never dared ask about this but have wondered and decided to compartmentalize this and put it aside. Now I am very happy to hear your complete story and know that most of what I had heard was fabricated and how the photo came to be. I believe you and thank you for your courage. You are an amazing woman and now I can say with full certainty, a patriotic American.

    Much love and respect,

    Regina Russell

  49. sorry Jane you have to keep repeating and repeating your vietnam experience…It brings back memories of how most of us hated the war..I am sure you know by now that your heart is clear…your conscience is clear…that’s all that matters…

  50. Jane, Jane, you aren’t being completely honest about what you did. You talk about wanting to have the correct context for your story. Here’s some of it that you left out.

    You say you went there “alone”? Hardly! You flew there courtesy of Aeroflot along with your Ukrainian-born husband and known Soviet apparatchik, Roger Vladimir Plemiannikov (aka Roger Vadim) who secured Soviet passports for both of you. Accompanying you were the usual entourage of officials from the KGB disinformation directorate.

    The original sound with the video of you sitting on the anti-aircraft gun clearly has you saying (not verbatim): “I wish I could get one of those bastards in my sights right now …” Your filmed “walking tour” was mostly of bomb craters in or near what the Communists said were hospitals. Naturally, the SAM sites and Triple A entrenchments which surrounded hospitals and orphanages had been removed.

    You’ll pardon us vets if we don’t see a reason to forgive you.

    • Antimedia again, wow do you have your info wrong. my ex-husband, Vadim, would NVER have gone on such a trip and those words you say are mine…100% incorrect.

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