Friday, March 16, 2007

Today Remains My Lai

Today is Friday, 16 March 2007.

“O that my head were waters, O that my eyes were a fountain of tears, that I might weep for the slain”. --- Jeremiah

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. --- Charles Dickens

On this date in 1968, American troops murdered some 427 or so civilians at the village of My Lai 4, in southern Viet Nam.

The worst of times: many of the soldiers of Charlie Company “followed orders”, that horrible phrase that must go back a thousand thousand years, and committed the massacre.

The best of times (and I use “best” here in a very jaundiced way): one helicopter crew, seeing what was happening, landed, trained their heavy machine guns on their fellow troops, and held them at bay while a handful of wounded civilians were evacuated.

The news broke in newspaper articles by Seymour M. Hersh in November 1969. See his book, My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath (Vintage, 1970). Also excellent is Four Hours in My Lai, by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim (Viking, 1992).

I need to expand this column with much more texture and nuance. It will probably take a few days at least. My Lai made a tremendous impact in my life, as it did for many. I invite your thoughts.


Post a Comment

<< Home