My Lai massacre remembered in Vietnam

My Lai massacre

From Associated Press:

My Lai marks 40th massacre anniversary

By Ben Stocking
Associated Press Writer / March 14, 2008

MY LAI, Vietnam—To the villagers who survived the My Lai massacre and many of the Americans who fought in the Vietnam War, all the anniversaries of the atrocity are important.

But Sunday’s anniversary — the 40th — seems especially urgent to some of the Americans who have come to commemorate it.

In My Lai, members of the Charlie Company slaughtered as many as 504 villagers, including unarmed women, children and elderly.

Frustrated U.S. troops came to My Lai on a “search and destroy” mission, looking for elusive Vietcong guerrillas. Although there were no reports of enemy fire, the U.S. troops began mowing down villagers and setting fire to their homes.

The incident shocked Americans and undermined support for the war.

The massacre reminds Lawrence Colburn and war veteran Mike Boehm of the 2005 images of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“We’re supposed to learn from the mistakes of history, but we keep making the same mistakes,” said Colburn, whose helicopter landed in My Lai in the midst of the massacre. “That’s what makes My Lai more important today than ever before.”

Boehm runs various humanitarian programs in Quang Ngai province, the central Vietnamese province where My Lai is located. He returned for the 30th anniversary and is helping organize this year’s event.

“If you follow the war in Iraq,” Boehm said, “you can see nothing has changed. At both My Lai and Abu Ghraib, there was a dehumanization of our enemy and a dehumanization of our own soldiers.”

The formal memorial events will be held Sunday next to a museum paying homage to the massacre victims.

On Saturday morning, Buddhists monks led a group prayer at the massacre site, burning incense and praying for the souls of those who died there.

Among the crowd of several hundred people was Do Thi Buong, 67, who fled from the marauding U.S. troops forty years ago and whose mother was shot to death during the massacre.

We just want peace,” she said. “We don’t want this sort of thing to happen again anywhere else in the world. Every year when this day arrives, I always feel terrible sadness, and I always remember my mother.”

Tariq Ali on 1960s Vietnam war protests: here.

17 thoughts on “My Lai massacre remembered in Vietnam

  1. Hi john newton, so you believe that the My Lai massacre was really by North Vietnam? Contrary to the United States government of the time, who had US officers indicted and (in the case of Lieutenant Calley) convicted for it? Well, there are also some people who believe in the Loch Ness monster, or in the tooth fairy; or that NASA never landed on the moon; that little green men live on Mars; that President Obama was not born in the USA; that Iraq was to blame for 9/11; that Hitler never killed six million Jews, etc … Absurd beliefs, many people say, are part of free speech; though others consider at least Holocaust denial hate speech, not free speech.


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