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Vietnam: My Lai

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My Lai > Vietnam > Asia

[Visited: July 2002]

In the American War, as the Vietnamese call the war, perhaps the most gruesome acts were committed on a day in March in 1968. An area suspected of collaboration with the Vietcong guerrilla, the Son My district of which My Lai was only one village, was completely wiped out by American soldiers. They were fighting against people without weapons, old women and men, children and babies. Nearly everyone, even though clearly unable to fit or even to collaborate with guerrilla's, was murdered in cold blood.

Picture of My Lai (Vietnam): My Lai massacre memorial mosaic

After arriving at the site of the memorial museum in the middle of an attractive area near Quang Ngay, a Vietnamese girl introduces herself as being our guide. With a voice that appears to tremble when she describes in detail the horrific facts of what happened here, she tells us a story of which you could only hope it would not happen in the late 20th century. Girls gang-raped, then murdered, pregnant women of which the belly was opened with a bayonet, babies shot without mercy. Upon hearing these stories, even with the hot humidity all around us I noted a chilling chicken skin all around me.

Picture of My Lai (Vietnam): Monument for My Lai massacre victims

Upon hearing the stories, upon seeing the pictures of the crimes in the small museum (the Americans did their best to conceal any evidence by bombing and burning down the area) one inevitable question comes to mind. How can a human being commit such crimes which he would have never imagined possible? What exactly does a war situation do with the minds of those fighting it? Is everyone capable of committing such atrocities? Not necessarily - one of the few heroes of that black day were American pilots who actually saved Vietnamese and were able to stop the massacre from claiming even more victims.

Picture of My Lai (Vietnam): My Lai reminders of massacre

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