Tag Archives: Vietnam War

Making A Positive Difference In Wartime; Miep Gies vs. Jane Fonda

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One of the goals of my blog here is to write about people who are making a positive difference, and hopefully, if I’m really lucky, make one myself. This week, actress Jane Fonda is getting a lot of press for her claims that she was canned by the home shopping network, QVC, for her status as a controversial person during the Vietnam War. You can read about that here: Jane Fonda — QVC Axed Me Over Possible Protests 

Whether or not you side with Jane Fonda or QVC in this matter, photographs tend to speak for themselves….

Jane Fonda wrote a rebuttal to her critics and QVC via her blog, and you can read that in its entirety here, along with the comments she has chosen to publish. I will state for the record that she has not yet posted my own comment, in which I ask her to make a donation of a portion of her millions to a Facebook Cause I founded, Thank a Vietnam Veteran, in order to prove the sincerity of her regret at supposedly being somehow tricked into sitting on that anti-aircraft gun: Jane Fonda’s Blog Post, “The Truth About My Trip To Hanoi”

Quite frankly, I was less than impressed with the argument set forth in the blog by Ms. Fonda. It seemed to be all about her, all about how she was framed and coerced by this that and the other person, and more than a little whiney. I’m sure that there have been some things said about her that aren’t true. This is the case with almost every celebrity, with every high profile news event, etc. But, Janey….Girlfriend…that’s so not the point. The point is, when you are confronted with a war that you don’t agree with, or a political leader that you don’t like and wish to protest, this is not how you make a positive difference. But, you’re a big girl now and you know that, don’t you?

For tips and pointers on how to make a difference in war time, no matter how Jane Fonda is trying to spin her actions now, 40 years later, when what she herself did and said is hitting her wallet, look not to Jane, but to a real wartime hero–Miep Gies.

Who???? Who, you say, well let me tell you a little bit about Miep Gies. Hopefully, afterward, you’ll want read and learn more about her for yourself. Miep shares one similarity with Jane–they both went against their own government during wartime. But that is where the similarities end. Miep Gies was one of the Dutch citizens who actively, at the very real risk of her own life, helped hide Anne Frank and her family in that annex  for two years during World War II. She is mentioned in The Diary of Anne Frank, and later penned her own account of that time in history in her volume, Anne Frank Remembered. I picked up a copy of it at the library today and, after reading just the prologue, cannot wait to delve into her account of those same events covered by Anne in her infamous diary. 

Consider these words from Miep Gies, as opposed to Fonda’s self aggrandizing, self pitying words in her recent blog:

“I am not a hero. I stand at the end of a long long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more–much more–during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened to them…There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time”. 

Wow. I guess the point to my blog today, and I do have one, is that each of us has a choice, including me, of course. We make choices every day regarding our own actions. My feelings about Jane Fonda’s actions back during the Vietnam War are probably not a secret. However, I didn’t write this blog to bash Ms. Fonda. I think her actions, and her own words of spin in the guise of truth telling in her own blog probably speak for themselves and are up to your own interpretation. What I ask you (and myself really) to consider, is the contrast between Jane Fonda and Miep Gies. Both women claim to have had only the best of intentions during wartime.

And war, I might add, isn’t really the issue here either. Show me a person who “loves” war, and I’ll show you a troubled individual. As my WWII Veteran grandfather once told me, “Shell, nobody loves war. And nobody hates war more than a soldier.” However, my grandfather was a veteran himself, and saw two sons go off to Vietnam not knowing whether or not they’d come home to him whole, or in one of those infamous body bags. He was and still is, however, a lifelong Republican, and an educated man as well. He may not have supported every war the U.S. fought in his heart, but he always supported his country, and its soldiers. And he would also be the first to tell you that support is NEVER spelled by going into enemy territory during wartime and sitting on weaponry with the enemy for a destructive, hurtful, self promoting photo opportunity. That’s just not supportive, and I suspect even Jane Fonda knows that. Miep Gies actually went against her occupied country’s leadership at the time, in a bigger, way more gutsy manner than Jane Fonda could have dreamed of doing. But, and here’s the critical difference, she did it in a way that saved lives, that positively impacted the victims of war–she fought the good fight. Jane? Not so much, because I really fail to see how her stunt in North Vietnam positively impacted even one victim of war–either the Vietnamese people, or Vietnam Soldiers, now Veterans, POWs, or Casualties. 

So, in the end, I think we all have to decide….when it comes to doing what’s right, to helping the victims of a war, to expressing ourselves in a positive and constructive manner, and showing the world what we’re really made of….Will we be Jane Fonda or Miep Gies? I know who I choose! 

As always, thanks for reading….

Our Forgotten Veterans–Why They Still Matter…

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Let me tell you what I know about Vietnam Veterans…

1) They are still among us…they’re our colleagues at work, our fellow parishioners at church, those faces in the crowd you see at your local shopping mall, and those drivers on the freeway next to you in gridlock traffic…

2) They are usually known for their membership in that much written about, much more positively associated group–Baby Boomers.With the exception of their service in the Vietnam War, as is characteristic of their cultural group, you usually can’t shut them up when they feel strongly about something, and you certainly can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. They make their own rules.

3) Each one of them, almost without exception, has been socially conditioned in some manner over the past 40 years to A) Forget that they served, B) Deny that they are veterans, or at least never proactively speak up about their veteran status and C) Try to forget what happened to them when they returned home…

4) They served as soldiers just like the veterans of all of our “popular” wars, i.e., WWI & WWII, etc. They are brave heroes, just the same…the only differences are that instead of ticker tape parades and the thanks of a grateful nation, upon their return home, IF they returned home, they were greeted with hatred and anger, and American citizens who waited for them at the airport only to spit in their faces and call them “baby killers”.

5) They are still waiting for our thanks for their service, and those two simple words….”Welcome Home”. If you think that it’s too late, or they don’t care anymore, or they are now irrelevant, think again. We, as a nation, committed a great wrong against these young men and women. They served and risked their lives–for us. And for that, and that alone, they deserve our deepest and most sincere thanks–STILL.

A few years ago I looked around me and I saw all of these things in the Vietnam Veterans I had contact with. I saw a need that not too many groups or individuals were interested in addressing. The need to go back and at least give it our best shot to give them that ticker tape parade that they never got…to let them know, before it was really too late and they were all gone, that we appreciated the fact that they answered the call of the leaders of their country, did their duty, and that we are sincerely sorry about the way they were treated when they came home. In order to accomplish my goal, I started this Cause, via the Facebook Causes Application: Thank a Vietnam Veteran.

This was an easy thing for me to do…really minimal effort. And really all I have to do now is monitor the page to make sure nothing inappropriate is said, post some bulletins with news and such now and then, and watch it grow on its own. As of the time of this writing, my Cause has a total of 6,813 members–members who feel as I do about the need for us all to do something for our Vietnam Veterans. And guess who else has joined? Vietnam Veterans themselves! And every now and then I get a personal note from one of them, or a post on the page thanking me for caring enough to start the cause. Just a few weeks ago one of them said, “It was 40 years before anyone thanked me, and it was on Facebook.”

Click this photo to visit the official National Vietnam Veterans Memorial site

So please, this Memorial Day, won’t you join me in bringing a tear to the eye of even one Vietnam Veteran who thought he’d never hear those simple words: Thank you for your service…Welcome Home, Soldier!

To visit the Thank a Vietnam Veteran Cause Page, and/or join us click here: http://www.causes.com/causes/140497-thank-a-vietnam-veteran

To read more about the Vietnam War: http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war

To read more about Vietnam Veterans today and find out how you can help, go here :Vietnam Veterans Association http://www.vva.org/

Please remember that this has nothing to do with any sort of endorsement of the Vietnam War, or any war for that matter. How anyone feels about about any war should be completely separate and apart from their gratitude for soldiers who answered the call of duty when their leaders asked them to–because they felt a patriotic loyalty to their country, because it was the law, because it was the right thing to do. It makes no difference, and we owe them that…

Billy Joel’s Moving Musical Tribute to the Veterans of the Vietnam War