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 memorable. The My Lai massacre is also a universal event. It not only affected Americans and the South Vietnamese; it affected everyone involved with the Vietnam War, including North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. All remember it as a shameful moment for humanity.
The My Lai Massacre didn’t just happen because a few inexperienced GIs got “trigger happy.” It didn’t happen because of one person, or even a few people. It happened because of a country: the United States of America, and its involvement in the Vietnam War. The soldiers of the Charlie Company were so tired of fighting for a cause that seemed moot that they would do anything to hurt the morale, spirits, and lives of the North Vietnamese and Vietcong. The My Lai Massacre was the United States government’s fault because the Charlie Company’s soldiers and commanders would do anything to end the war as soon as possible, which to them meant hurting the North Vietnamese and Vietcong in any way possible.
The United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1955. Their involvement started when they gave aid to the South Vietnamese in the form of advisors and supplies, but troops weren’t sent until 1965. Between 1965 and 1967, hundreds of thousands of...