The California Museum’s Hall of Fame for the third year has compiled a list of notable and legendary Californians who have made extraordinary achievements in the fields of music, architecture, art, literature, politics, science, cinema, fitness and food.  Among the inductees, who will include such notables as Jack Nicholson – three-time Oscar winning actor, and Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner; is Jane Fonda, two-time Oscar winning actress, fitness pioneer and activist.

Jane Fonda?  There are over nine million Vietnam veterans alive in America today who have every reason to despise Jane Fonda.  And I am one of them.  On the other hand, call me a cautious journalist, or perhaps just plain lazy, but I decided to consult with my favorite fact checker, www.snopes.com , before explaining why I don’t think she belongs on anyone’s list of notable Americans.  Here’s what I found:

 “During a 1972 trip to North Vietnam, Jane Fonda propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government, declared that American POWs were being treated humanely, and condemned U.S. soldiers as War Criminals, and later denounced them as liars for claiming they had been tortured.  True.”

But 1972 was a long time ago. Is it really important that we discuss this issue now? For a special group of American heroes it is more important than ever, because they need to set the record straight. I am referring to those who were captured and held as prisoners of war. In 1972, many of our POWs were residing in conditions of unbelievable depravation in camps with euphemistic names like “The Hanoi Hilton,” and “The Zoo.” It was a life of misery, where torture and beatings were daily fare and many died of starvation and disease. Most POWs never expected to be freed – especially since their captors told them that they would eventually be tried and executed for their war crimes. Imagine their despair when one of their own told the world that they were war criminals. The North Vietnamese government could not have asked for a better publicity agent than Jane Fonda!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver will present each inductee with the Spirit of California Medal on Monday, December 15, 2008.  More information is available at http://www.californiamuseum.org/Exhibits/Hall-of-Fame/coming-in-2008.html.

I’ve already cast my vote on Jane Fonda’s induction into the California Hall of Fame both at the museum and Governor Schwarzenegger’s office.  Those who are similarly offended by the choice should do the same.

Ron Standerfer is a retired Air Force Colonel and fighter pilot who flew 250 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He has written numerous short stories, magazine articles, and blog pieces on military aviation in general, and fighter pilots in specific. During the initial bombing of Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, he was seen on national TV as a military analyst. His latest novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight, chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of this book can be found at http://www.theeagleslastflight.com His blog, which presents his views and opitions on a variety of subjects can be read at http://www.theeagleslastflight.blogspot.com

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