My Lai Massacre

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On the morning of March 16, 1968 in a small village called My Lai in the Quang Nai province of Vietnam, small families of mothers, young children, and elderly were naively enjoying their breakfasts and chattering amongst themselves. Not long after, soldiers of the Charlie Company commanded by Lieutenant William Calley Jr. invaded the hamlet in a search and destroy mission (Robertson 465). American soldiers relentlessly and mercilessly attacked unarmed, unresisting Vietnamese families. The air was thick with smoke and the smell of blood. Bodies were strewn across the dirt grounds; the simultaneous sound of guns firing could be heard from afar. The tragedy swept America as a shock when the reality of the events came to light. However, having …show more content…
When the reality of the massacre reached the American public, some believed that the brutality of the event “proved that the men being drafted into Vietnam military service needed more and better training” (“My Lai Massacre” UXL 1048). Despite their circumstances, soldiers should only take action when needed; it is their responsibility to discern when weapons should be used and when they should not be. Going into Vietnam, most soldiers also had a warped sense of justice that differed greatly from the thinking of the Vietnamese people’s. According to a Vietnam War veteran the Vietnamese people “wanted everything to do with the war... to leave them alone in peace” while the soldiers “rationalized destroying villages in order to save them” and refused to retreat or lose against the Vietcong (Kerry 1). In stark contrast, the American soldiers’ and the Vietnamese people’s values could have led to the My Lai Massacre as differentiating opinions often lead to conflict or contention. Another possible cause of the massacre could be the Americans’ lack of humanity. The act of violently slaughtering the 504 peaceful Vietnamese civilians concurs with their lack of humanity. “In combat, there is a difference between overreaction and murder. My Lai was no mere overreaction” ("The My Lai Massacre” 1). Numerous soldiers voluntarily sodomized and massacred helpless Vietnamese civilians. While fighting the war, the Vietnamese were also labelled as “oriental human beings”, and America placed a sort of cheapness on the lives of these “orientals” (Kerry 1). In fact, a war veteran states that America refused to surrender based on the pride that America would not lose to these “oriental human beings”, and that there was a “glorification” of body counts (Kerry 1). Based on the inhumanity and even racism of the American soldiers,

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