Popular Posts

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Recently I was sent an email filled with statements of hate and anger because Jane Fonda is going to be honored for some good works she has done. It has been over 40 years since Fonda did her infamous broadcasting to U.S. troops in Vietnam from the enemy’s side. Forty years is a long, long time to hold onto hatred and anger, however many people do. I did.

I remember my own anger at the time Fonda went to Hanoi and consorted with the Vietcong. At that time I was married to a career Marine and we had three sons. My husband spent two tours in Vietnam with the Marine Air Wing. Each time I would make the trek back to my hometown in West Texas with our sons so they could have an association with family. On our second trip there was a sponsored rally at the local football stadium to promote support for our troops and patriotism. From a city of nearly a 70,000 population, there was less than one hundred attending. I was shocked and hurt. In fact, from my viewpoint it was pitiful.

After my anger subsided, I began questioning why had patriotism gone by the wayside in our country. The country seemed split with young men moving to other countries to avoid the draft. We had anti-war demonstrations all over the country and some with violence on the part of the police. It was a time of hippies; make peace – not war and young men dying in Vietnam. We also had John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. All assassinated and for what? This was a period when I had all of my beliefs shaken to the core.

Vietnam. The word conjures up different images and memories for people. I had grown up with an image of WWII being an honorable war with the country united in patriotism. With Vietnam it was different. I remember my husband writing to me from Vietnam and saying that he and others had been issued weapons and were told they could not shoot first. They could only return fire if fired upon first. That was a shocker to me. It was like no other war fought before in history that I could ascertain.

My background knowledge of Vietnam began when I was working in the embassy in Paris. I worked in the code room encoding and decoding messages. During my tenure, the French who had colonized Indochina – now called Vietnam – were fighting a bloody battle to retain their supremacy. Others and I in the code room began working double-shifts resulting in 16-hour workdays. Sometimes the messages coming in from Indochina were garbled and we would get the International New York Herald Tribune and see if we could make any sense from the place names such as Dien Bien Phu so we could resolve the garble.

As I recall, the U.S. was being asked to come to the aid of the French, however John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State refused. Finally the French pulled out and the country was now in the hands of the Vietcong who were painted as despicable communists. The word communist was used as an excuse to strike terror in the hearts of American citizens. I was in Paris at the time Senator Joe McCarthy conducted his famous witch-hunts. His witch-hunts led to the trials and sentencing to death of the Rosenbergs. I observed the European anti-American protests gatherings. I was working in the Embassy one evening when the Place de la Concord was filled with anti-American protestors. I remember going to the roof of the Embassy and watching. It was frightening. The Rosenbergs years later were found to be innocent of the charges after their execution.

What does this have to do with Fonda and Vietnam? It really has to do with forgiveness and my forgiveness. Before the U.S. presence in Vietnam escalated, I was now married to my Marine husband and we were stationed in Hawaii. The wives had a grapevine and we knew that every six months a squadron would leave on a secret mission to Vietnam. We were supposed to think at that time we only had military observers there. After JFK’s assassination Johnson openly escalated the presence of the military there and it was indeed a war.

Referring back to the beginning of my questioning of why there was a lack of patriotism in the U.S. for this war, I received it some years later. I have learned that our presence in Vietnam was not at all altruistic. I also learned why the French so desperately attempted to hold on to their control. Indochina, now called Vietnam, was a corridor for drug trafficking. It was the corridor to the Golden Triangle long known for their opium trade. The Golden Triangle encompasses the hills of northern Burma, northern, Laos and northern Thailand. The young people in the sixties knew it was an immoral war and why. It was also a time when the use of drugs almost became a national epidemic.

Jane Fonda is older and wiser now. She has publicly apologized for her actions in Vietnam and has since done many great works. She is also a Christian now. Shouldn’t she be forgiven? In the Bible there are at least three verses in the book of Luke where Jesus speaks on forgiveness and at least two verses on forgiveness in the book of Matthew. If Christ can forgive and if there is forgiveness in God, why can’t we humans forgive? To hold on to anger and hatred of someone’s past actions is like dragging dead mules across the field of the mind.

Today we are in the midst of another war and it is fought differently from past wars. Instead of it being a war for control of drugs, this one is for control of oil. Perhaps it also has something to do with drugs. Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq raise poppies for opium and its derivatives. I am now past anger. I find that by standing back and observing, my life is richer. I have experienced deep anger held in my mind and my body for fifty years. The anger when it was released was so volatile that my body rocked with it for three days. That is when I said enough is enough. Forgiveness is so sweet.

Today the word communist has been supplanted by the word terrorist to strike fear in the American people and to justify the U.S. presence in Iraq. Today there is a movement of awakening once again in this country and also in the world. We must each empower our own self and we do this by seeking knowledge. Once we have knowledge we have choices. We must become our own authority. An authority is one who is in power now. We have given our power away to the news media, the government, the pharmaceutical companies, religions and corporate America. Didn’t Goliath slay the Giant? I would say that this is an allegory. Could it be that the first stone Goliath sent to the Giant was a stone of forgiveness? It is something to think about.

I can say from experience that to hold on to anger, resentment and judgment for forty years or longer is only hurting the holder. So I say, let’s forgive Jane Fonda and others and move into a more exciting aspect of our life – our mind. Forgiveness does not mean inaction. Forgiveness opens the doors to wise choices and decisions to where we do take action. The memory may be there, but the pain and its residue to no more.