My Lai: The Event, The Trial,

1535 words - 6 pages

American troops landed in Vietnam in the spring of 1965; that was probably the biggest mistake the United States of America have made in its 200 plus years of existence. As a result, the country's concern turned towards, next to the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, mostly in favor of it, but some against it. For the first time ever, America saw daily reports, footage, broadcasts on television of the "reality" of the war. The images presented at first, along with some carefully prepared lies that a tense government conjured up gave a frictional society the impression that American presence in Vietnam was appropriate, and that we would come out as heroes (Almond)… The lies were the "truth" as the people saw it. Then eventually, reports and images began showing up that showed the inhumane actions, cruelty, violence, and the absolute truth of what was really going on in Vietnam. In reality, it was a blood bath (Almond).
When the truth of the extremity and the reality of the war broke ground and reached the public eye, society's realization of the truth collided head-on into the government's world of lies, and all hell broke loose. The people's opinion began drifting non-stop against the war, as opposed to their previous pro-war attitude. There were anti-war demonstrations and peace movements (Almond) that shut down colleges, and sometimes towns across the country. Then one day, as the media was delivering their daily recurrences of the horror that was Vietnam, reports of a massacre in a village designated as My Lai 4 came up. Following these reports and some "thorough" investigation came the indictment of Lt. William Calley, the man slated responsible for the event, along with that indictment came charges of murder. The trial and crime helped bring the reality of the war to the people. It struck the major interests and concerns of the people at the time (Almond), and because of this, it is only appropriate to say that the court-martial of Lt. William Calley for his role in My Lai is the trial of the 1970s.
On September 5, 1969, Lieutenant William Calley was formally charged with the responsibility of the murder of over 100 Vietnamese civilians (Linder) that took place on March 16, 1968. The exact details of the events that took place that day in March vary from source to source, depending on the point of view the information is based on. The troops of Charlie Company attacked at 7:30 am on March 16, and by noon, the killing was finished, and so was My Lai. The architecture was in rubbles and the all of the civilians, short nine that were lucky enough to get picked up by helicopter pilot Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson and flown to a nearby army hospital (Linder), were either dead or dying.
Official Army reports of the operation were far from the truth. The reports stated that 128 enemy were killed, and one American was injured. In reality, though, as many as 500 civilians were killed that day, and the American that was...

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