Vietnam War 20th century How did we get here? What went wrong and what can we learn from it ? Are there lessons for the future?The My Lai massacre, Is it easier to understand, but not to accept,...

Vietnam War 20th century

How did we get here? What went wrong and what can we learn from it ? Are there lessons for the future?

The My Lai massacre, Is it easier to understand, but not to accept, why activists behaved in such an ugly manner when greeting troops for Vietnam?

Asked on by clare15

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I assume you specifically refer to the My Lai Massacre. It is one of the saddest and most reprehensible chapters in American history. The massacre was not a sudden decision to kill indiscriminately, but originated with the belief that anyone remaining in the village of My Lai on the day of the attack was affiliated with the Viet Cong, who were communist rebels within South Vietnam. Although the killing of children seemed terrible, there were instances in which children were used as suicide bombers who were told to run in the midst of American soldiers before detonating their devices. Sadly, soldiers soon began killing anyone and anything in their path in seeming mass hysteria which cannot be justified. It is impossible to understand, let alone explain why these American soldiers seemingly lost all sense of self control in an act bordering mob violence.

The indiscriminate killing of My Lai changed the entire perception of the war to those in America. Opposition to the war grew exponentially, as many wondered why U.S. troops remained. Sadly, the revulsion expressed by those against the war became as indiscriminate as the actions of those who were at My Lai.

The lessons of My Lai speak for themselves. Poor leadership often leads to terrible consequences. Sadly, it was not isolated; recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan have included killing of innocents by American soldiers. While it cannot be completely prevented, it is important that we as Americans express our strong disapproval by anyone acting in the name of the United States of America who acts in a criminal and inhumane manner.

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etotheeyepi's profile pic

etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

You should research similar incidents during World War II. 

Large numbers of Philippine civilians were killed in Batangas Province and Manilas City by retreating Japanese Imperial soldiers and marines. Maybe nobody knows how many.

According to one of my Filipino neighbors, the situation in the Philippines was similar to Vietnam in that many Filipino civilians acted like combatants, so that the Japanese soldiers could not know if a civilian was a combatant or not.

Another example could be the movie, Black Hawk Down, in which children picked up weapons and fired on American soldier, and in response the American soldiers killed the children.

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