Significance Of The My Lai Massacre

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Why did the My Lai massacre occur? It was on January 31, 1968 that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong launched a massive attack against South Vietnam. This assault, which is better known as the Tet Offensive, was an attempt to get the South Vietnamese riled up in hopes that they would rebel against the American backed government and join the North Vietnamese army. The Tet Offensive came to be a large military defeat for the communist north and the Vietcong. It was after being effectively countered by the South Vietnamese and U.S. military that the Vietcong retreated to an area known to Americans as “Pinkville”. So we ask the question, why on March 16, 1968 did the U.S. troops sweep across a small hamlet called My Lai and slaughter all of the civilians? In the two weeks prior to the My Lai massacre U.S. forces had been in the My Lai area twice and had already encountered a lot of Vietcong resistance. According to Jay A. Roberts in his Testimony to Peers Commission, many U.S. soldiers had died because of the Vietcong and those who survived didn’t know who they could trust as far as the Vietnamese went. American forces were told that My Lai was heavily populated with the Vietcong, Vietcong sympathizers, and that snipers were trained in this area as presented in Robert W. T’Souvas’ Testimony to U.S. Army CID. The Vietcong even subtly admitted that their forces were in the area. It was stated by a Vietcong friendly group on their National Liberation Front Committee Notice that even prior to the official date of the My Lai Massacre the Vietcong had strong operations against U.S. forces. During only fifteen days which dated prior to the My Lai incident guerrilla forces had killed two hundred and ninety eight of their enemy forces. So... ... middle of paper ... ...mrades having their legs blown off by booby traps, or their allies being picked off by hidden snipers. These soldiers did not understand the language of their enemy and many attempts at communication would be misunderstood and commands intended by Americans would receive a different reaction. Furthermore, the American forces knew that they were in a hostile area because the Vietcong friendly National Liberation Freedom Committee had publically announced that Vietcong attacks against U.S. forces had taken place in the area before the My Lai incident. In the disillusioned world of Vietnam the hamlet of My Lai was leveled. It was brutal yes, but the American soldiers were in a war unlike that of any America had experienced before. The My Lai massacre was a terrible event waiting to happen. If it wasn’t the My Lai incident, there would have been another like it to come.
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