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Dear Jane

 

J. D. Pendry

 

Dear Jane:

 

You probably donít recall, but it was the Fourth of July weekend several years ago when I last wrote to you.It was after hearing you regret, on the Oprah show, your actions during the Vietnam War.I wondered then about the sincerity of your apology and suggested some places for you to visit and with whom you might better direct your words.You chose again a national television audience to apologize for taking a picture with enemy soldiers at an anti-aircraft gun emplacement.Makes me wonder if you read my letter.

 

"The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda's daughter...sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal...the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine," Ė Jane Fonda on 60 Minutes April 3, 2005

 

The first step in seeking forgiveness from those you harmed Jane, is admitting that you harmed them.Iím not sure from your words if forgiveness is what youíre after, but this start seems better than your last.Forgiveness is mutual Jane.First, you must seek forgiveness and those from whom itís sought must willingly give it.For some of us, forgiving is not an option.We know that if we do not forgive earnestly, we will not be forgiven.Forgiving the person is much different from forgiving the personís act.I hope Iím not confusing you with my thoughts.You see Jane we can forgive a murderer Ė the man Ė just before we hang him for the act of murder.Forgiveness for his act of murder, heíll need to take up with The higher authority that can grant it.You should understand that it might be difficult for men who suffered at the hands of North Vietnamese torturers, to separate Jane, the misguided young woman, from her acts of aiding their enemy.

 

Itís interesting that you feel badly about the photograph, but do not regret the broadcasts from Radio Hanoi that you directed to American Forces and the photos taken of you with American POWs.Iím also curious about the sincerity and timing of your apology, but I am somewhat of a cynic so thatís understandable.Itís interesting that two days after your 60 Minutes apology, your autobiography will be released.Your words in the interview sounded terribly scripted to me, but you are an accomplished actress and again Iím a cynic.My hope is that your apology is a sincere one and not manipulation of us by a slick agent and scriptwriter.

 

I heard that youíve found religion and your life has taken a new direction.I searched and found news articles about your acceptance of Jesus Christ.I hope itís true Jane because if there is anyone that can change your life for the good He can.If there is anyone who can heal you in body and spirit, He can.If youíve truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then I expect you can make difficult choices.All of us know that the segment of society from which you come glorifies homosexuals coming out of closets, but encourages Christians to stay in them.If youíve chosen Christianity, youíve made a difficult but wise choice.If you use your gifts for His purposes, youíll achieve heights you never before imagined.But, you know these things, if you have accepted Him.

 

There is more to apologizing and forgiving than simply uttering the words.A personís deeds transcend their words.Itís what we see you do, rather than hear you say that causes us to believe that youíre truly sorry.Itís also deeds that will ultimately lead to your forgiveness from the men, to use your word, who were victims of your ďbetrayal.ĒYou are a person of means and influence Jane.You could be a great instrument of healing in this country.Itíll take a lot of faith and courage, but if itís truly what you want to see, youíll see it.Iím afraid, though, that itíll require much bigger steps than words shared during a 60 Minutes book release interview.

 

Have you considered contacting directly any of the still living POWs?Itíll take much courage on your part, but Iím betting theyíll listen.Plenty of organizations help soldiers and their families.Did you ever think of offering your help to one of them?There are national organizations such as the USO, but there are also tiny ones doing great things.You could probably start your own organization and do much good.Jane, it was deeds, right or wrong, and not words that brought you to this point in your life.Itíll be your deeds not your words that take you forward.

 

Many old soldiers and young ones will read this letter Jane.What is in it will surprise most of them.But, you know what else Jane?Theyíll be the most enthusiastic group standing by to give you an opportunity to prove through deeds that your words have meaning.

 

God Bless Ė JD

 

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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.

 

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