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The Massacre At My Lai Is One Of The Many

927 words - 4 pages

The massacre at My Lai is one of the many results of the negative psychological effects on the men that fought in the Vietnam War. Tim O’Brien’s interpretation of Vietnam in The Things They Carried paints a vivid picture about the horrors of war, how someone could snap, and how easy it is for someone to lose their principles. My Lai is representative of the extreme situations that occurred in war. On March 16, 1968, Charlie Company was ordered into the small hamlet of My Lai located outside of the Son My village in Vietnam. They were told that they would find Viet Cong soldiers, but instead they only found civilians. Despite the lack of resistance, Charlie Company opened fire. In a matter of 4 hours, 500 civilians including women and children were killed in cold blood. Immediately after the scandal came the extensive cover-up. Reports on the My Lai operation stated, “…it was a stunning combat victory against a Viet Cong stronghold.†The true story of My Lai did not actually come out until a year later.The My Lai massacre was partially the fault of one man’s destroyed perception. Lieutenant William Calley was the commanding officer at My Lai. Calley was constantly trying to impress his superiors, and was very “Gung Hoâ€. He was also not very popular with the men that he supervised. This shows that Calley was a very insecure person and could snap at any point. My Lai proves this. Calley himself admitted to shooting 3-year-old children in the face. His men, mesmerized and probably traumatized from the war, followed his example and just started killing people. This was not the product of sane individuals.First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, the commander of Alpha Company in The Things They Carried, was not mentally healthy. Though he came upon different experiences than Lt. Calley, Cross had serious issues with depression and regret that led to the death of a fellow soldier. Lt. Cross was in love with a college girl named Martha. She had sent him a bunch of letters and two photos of herself. One night in the Vietnam jungle, Alpha Company was camped. Lieutenant Cross, who should have been securing the perimeter, was instead mesmerized by Martha’s letters. Enemy fire broke through, hitting Ted Lavender in the head and killing him. This traumatized Cross, who proceeded to burn Martha’s letters. This could have been seen as a mistake if it wasn’t for the amount of time that Cross spent thinking about Martha. She became an obsession, something to distract him from the horrors that went on around him. “Lieutenant Cross gazed at the tunnel. But he was not there....

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