Site of the My Lai Massacre

You can’t really appreciate the tragedy of war unless you see for yourself, the true horror was brought home to me when I visited the Son My Village in Vietnam, site of the My Lai massacre.

The events here occurred on the 16 March 1968 when a group of U.S. Army soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment arrived in the village searching for Viet Cong.  None were found, as the village was comprised solely of women, children and elderly males. All were cooperative, but Lt. William Calley Jnr, the soldiers’ commander, ordered his men to needlessly kill the villagers anyway.

After visiting Asia and being at the site of the My Lai massacre, I realised just how barbaric war can be.

My Lai was one of the hamlets in Son My village. It is peaceful now, but reminders of the massacre are everywhere in the village.  There is a museum next to the site which features very explicit images and dioramas which highlight the barbarism.

Most of the hamlet was destroyed, although authorities re-built one house just to display what it looked like. On the empty plots that were once houses, there are signs giving the names, gender and ages of those who were killed. So many of them were children, among which were a great number of infants.

Untold women were raped and many mothers were forced to watch their children being killed before they too were wiped out. A sign at one plot tells of a 90-year-old man being thrown headfirst down a well and left there to die.

The site of the My Lai massacre is a very dour place to visit. It should be a beautiful, thriving village, but it is a ghost hamlet. The massacre was completely senseless because the villagers offered no threat or resistance to the troops.  This was murder. Pure and simple.

Yet, the US Armey did little to punish those who took part in the massacre. Just one soldier, the leader Lt. Calley, was found guilty of premeditated murder and was given a life sentence.  That was later reduced to 20 years prison, then reduced again to three and a half years house detention.

Five hundred villagers were killed, yet the majority of killers got off scot-free.

I filmed a video at the site of the My Lai massacre and put it on YouTube. Here it is so that you can see for yourself the horror that was the My Lai Massacre.