The My Lai Massacre only took a few hours, but its impact on everyone from the perpetrators and victims to the American public will last forever. The My Lai Massacre took place during the heart of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, on March 16, 1968. The My Lai Massacre is widely considered one of the most horrific moments in United States’ history, which is ironic, because Americans weren’t the victims, they were the opposite: the perpetrators. The Charlie Company of the 11th Infantry Brigade of the United States Army were the specific perpetrators, and the civilians of the village of My Lai 4, in the Son My district of South Vietnam were the victims. During the massacre, up to 500 unarmed and innocent Vietnamese villagers were mutilated, raped, sodomized, and killed by the U.S. Army.
The memory and legacy of the My Lai Massacre remains instilled in the hearts and minds of Americans even today, almost fifty years after the incident, not only because of the atrocities that took place that day, but because of how the aftermath was handled by the Charlie Company and the United States’ government and legal system. The American public was only made aware of the incident almost two years after it occurred, and the perpetrators of the event served a total of only two days and one night in jail for their actions at My Lai.
The My Lai Massacre is history to many people, but it was also a reality to many others, and the reality of the My Lai Massacre hits so close to home with both people who lived through the Vietnam War and those who look back on the event.. The horror of the event and its aftermath is striking to both those who witnessed it unfold in real time and those who look back on it, and this is why it is so me...
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...d to the public. Another lesson is, good people can do bad things. William Calle, Ernest Medina, and their men were just following orders. They were just carrying out another mission. And the final lesson, is that, often, there is no right or wrong answer. Are Calley and Medina guilty? Who is more guilty, Lyndon B. Johnson or William Calley? Ernest Medina or Richard Nixon? Were Calley and Medina scapegoats for the whole Charlie Company of the 11th Infantry Brigade of the United States Army? There truly is no correct answer to any of these questions. There is also no real answer to the biggest question of the all: what really happened on March 16, 1968 in the small village of My Lai 4 in the Son My district of South Vietnam during those fateful four hours between 8:00am and 12:00pm and who is to blame for the everlasting horrors and atrocities that occurred My Lai?
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