'Hanoi Jane' controversial photos still anger millions of Americans. How Jane Fonda explains it
The actress caused quite a stir during the war, being one of the many people who were very outspoken against it.
Jane Fonda earned herself the nickname "Hanoi Jane" during the Vietnam War after photographs of her sitting on an anti-aircraft gun in North Vietnam were made public.
But as reported by The Wrap, Fonda has explained that there is an explanation for the photo, and that she had never intended for people to misinterpret the image as has been done for many years.
Fonda's actions during the Vietnam War have made her highly unpopular, even to this day, among many involved in the military.
But Fonda explains that she never meant disrespect to the men and women who served in the United States military, as it is not up to them where the US wages war.
The gun photo that sent so many into an uproar showed Fonda supposedly posing on the anti-aircraft gun that the North Vietnamese were using to shoot down US aircraft. As it happens, Fonda has explained the photo before, but has again shared her explanation.
She has been seen on numerous occasions on television explaining how that photo came to be, and even wrote about it in her memoirs, My Life So Far.
During the War, many people visited North Vietnam, including journalists, diplomats, peace activists, professors, religious leaders and Vietnam Veterans themselves, all in the hopes of ending the seemingly never-ending war.
These visitors were often treated to visits to Vietnamese military installations, and were always required to wear a helmet like the one Fonda was wearing in the image.
When Fonda was taken to see the anti-aircraft gun, there was a large group of people on the site, including a number of photographers and journalists. In hindsight, she realized the high press presence should have sent alarm bells ringing.
She joined the North Vietnamese in singing songs in good faith, and remembered marveling at the fact that the communist soldiers valued the same words as Americans: life, liberty, and happiness.
It was then that she made the gun mistake. As everyone was laughing and singing, she was overcome with emotion at everything she had experienced in her two-week visit to the war-torn country.
In her recollection, someone led her towards the gun. Without thinking about the gravity of what she was doing, she sat down, still laughing and joking with her companions. A camera flashed.
It was only when she got up to walk back to the car with her translator that she realized what had just happened.
“Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes,” she remembered thinking.
She quickly begged and pleaded with her translator to make sure that the photo was never published, and he assured her he would take care of it.
To this day, Fonda doesn't know if she was deliberately set up to get that photograph.
"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," Fonda admonished herself.
Unfortunately, that incident helped to fuel other rumors about Fonda. One of these was that she spat on American prisoners of war at the Hanoi Hilton prison. Another was that she betrayed these prisoners to the North Vietnamese intelligence.
Fonda has denied all these rumors, with some supporting evidence also coming to her defense.
Capt. Mike McGrath, president of the POW-NAM organization, wrote a letter that declared that it was highly unlikely that Fonda had ever even been to the Hanoi prison, as the North Vietnamese would not have wanted to show her the squalid conditions.
Fonda was against the war only after she had spoken to US soldiers who had served in the war, initially believing the US could do no wrong in Vietnam.
Once she had educated herself about what was happening, she became a very outspoken voice against the war. But while she didn't agree with the US involvement or what they were doing in the war, she never blamed the soldiers who fought in the war.