LIFE magazine on 7 April 1967 shows the Hotel Metropole in Hanoi on the cover page. But this wasn’t a travel report. It was the story of the first American photographer (Lee Lockwood) in North Vietnam ‘under siege’ – an exclusive report. People outside of the hotel were half hidden in side walk shelters, waiting for the all-clear siren during an air raid alert.
The following was reprinted in the report of Hearings before the U.S. Congress House of Repesentatives Committee on Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas. Hearings on HR16742, 19 and 25 September 1972 at page 7671.
‘This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life–workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women’s union, writers.
I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural co-op, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.
In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller’s play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me–the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.
I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam–these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.
I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets-schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.
As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble-strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly–and I pressed my cheek against hers–I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America’s.
One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I’ve been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he’ll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist.
I’ve spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.
But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created–being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools–the children learning, literacy–illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.
And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders–and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism–I don’t think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.’
Source: This speech is located at http://www.1stcavmedic.com/jane_fonda.htm and at .http://www.archive.org/stream/hearingsregardin1972unit (at page 7671)
Copyright information: Gifts of Speech believes that for copyright purposes, this speech is in the public domain since it was reprinted as part of the hearings before the U. S. Congress. Any use of this speech, however, should show proper attribution to its author.