March 11, 2016
...It was March 16th 1968, and things seemed peaceful. The weather couldn’t be any more beautiful. Hugh Thompson, a 24 year old Army helicopter pilot, serving in Vietnam, was thankful for the clear weather.
He and his two man crew left their compound and headed for what they were told was a suspected North Vietnamese stronghold. As they arrived at the small village of My Lai, Thompson maneuvered his helicopter between two tree lines. His crew member, Larry Colburn said:
“You could smell the jungle and see the fog rising up. It was, by all accounts, a beautiful day We were flying low and could clearly see the villagers. As hard as we looked, we encountered not one Vietcong. The village was occupied by women, children and old men. It was Saturday morning and they were carrying empty containers and baskets. It was obvious that they were heading to the village market. It was an activity that was probably carried out, in the same fashion, by their ancestors for generations.”
Thompson decided to move out of the area and check another nearby village. Once again no enemy was encountered. They swung their helicopter around and headed back to the village of My Lai.
This time, they dropped below the tree line and were skimming across the jungle floor. They could clearly see the villagers but nobody was moving. They were all dead. Women, children, infants and old men were piled up like so much cordwood in a long irrigation ditch.
To the horror of Thompson and his two man crew, they were witnessing an American army platoon, lead by Lt. Calley, in the process of systematically murdering over 500 innocent Vietnamese villagers.
Hugh Thompson landed his helicopter and placed his two men between the soldiers and the ditch. He instructed his two crew members to open fire on their American comrades if they attempted to kill one more villager. Hugh Thompson went about convincing ten terrified villagers to come out of a small earthen bunker. He also came upon a young child of approx 6 years of age in the ditch with the others. The child was alive and was clinging to his dead mother. Thompson called for additional helicopter support and they transported the few remaining villagers to the Quang Nhai Hospital which was run by Catholic nuns.
Paula Bock, a journalist for the Pacific Northwest Magazine, who was reporting on this tragedy said:
It is self serving on the part of our government to single out these men as a“few bad apples” and encourage the American public to simply consider My Lai as an isolated incident. The actions of these American soldiers are not to be condoned however they are symptomatic of a deeper problem that exists in our country.
To some extent, the young soldiers were duped into believing that the people they were killing were some kind of sub species and with that mindset it allowed them to carry out this terrible atrocity.
Another contributing factor is that our government, over the years, has developed a bias for violence and war. This bias for violence has been systemically institutionalized into the thinking of many American citizens. Our government’s “Might Makes Right” mantra is constantly communicated in the newspapers, TV and in the war games that we allow our children to play. The brutalization of innocent citizens has occurred in our recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and especially in Pakistan and Yemen with the indiscriminate use of drone warfare.
...It is estimated that the United States currently has 1000 military bases throughout the world 250,000 US military deployed worldwide and our government would strongly argue that they are not empire-building.
If ever the citizens of the United States should be vigilant and question their government now is the time. Seeking the truth and speaking out when you believe your country is not taking the moral high ground is not an option it is a responsibility. Dissent, rather than being unpatriotic, is the highest form of patriotism.”
I have a "Vision":
That the United States take recent events as a wake up call and, as a nation, abolishes war as an instrument of national policy. Our nation can take the moral high-ground and turn to hope and not despair. A transition from war into "Peace" can become a reality in the United States. And in time, the world will views us not as a threat to peace but ... a beacon of light and leadership, finding peaceful solutions to violent conflicts.
"I wish I was a big enough man to say I
forgive them, but I swear to God, I can't."
- Hugh C, Thompson - My Lai - Viet Nam.
Calendar / Twitter / News! / Previous Issues / Jobs / Live Music & Arts / Blog / Myspace / Poetry / Progressive Directory / Facebook1 / Facebook2
Features: Active Community / Arts & Culture / Cartoons / Civil Rights / Letters / Occupy Blog / Peace / Persian / Union / Viewpoints & Commentary
Columns: / William Beeman, Ellen Brown, Tom Engelhardt / Dennis Kucinich / Michael Munk / William Reed / Schwebke / Norman Solomon / Vorpahl
* Partners:Alliance for Democracy AFD / Albina Ministerial Alliance AMA / CAUSA / CLG News / Socialism FSP / ISO / Jobs with Justice / KBOO /
Labor Radio / LGBTQ Occupy / Occupy PDX / The 99% / Peaceworker / PCASC / StreetRoots / Truthout / Urban League / VFP / Voz / Wittner
Topics: Coal / Death Penalty / Environment / Health / Middle East / Police / VDay / War & Peace / Women / Writing / WritingResource
Coming Soon: A Few Words / MRG / Service Directory / Editing / Flyers / Ground View / Flying Focus / Literacy / Rashad