The My Lai Massacre and its Aftermath
Resulting from the American fear of spreading communism in South East Asia, the Vietnam War was America's longest and most exhausting conflict. President Lyndon B. Johnson inherited this problem of spreading communism in 1964, and was at first somewhat against the prospect of conflict having known it may hurt his reelection chances. However, as conditions worsened in South Vietnam Johnson began to slowly launch the massive war effort beginning with an unrelenting bombing campaign on the Viet Cong. Eventually the exhausting war escalated into guerilla warfare, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were killed in the close fighting. Although the Viet Cong were responsible for some of these deaths, American forces in the area also were responsible for the killings unbeknownst to the American public. American soldiers during the war were sent on search and destroy missions in which they would ravage villages killing and destroying everyone. Americans were taught that the Vietnamese were not human, and that any dead Vietnamese were Viet Cong. With this mentality American soldiers not only destroyed the innocent men, women, and children of Vietnam, but they also raped, tortured, and pillaged for fun. Pending the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, the atrocities of the war were finally made public to the American citizens in November of 1969 with the revelation of the My Lai Massacre. In the incident troops under the command of Lieutenant William Calley and Captain Ernest Medina raped and murdered 504 of the My Lai inhabitants on March 16, 1968. There were no men to defend the settlement, only old men, women, and children. The platoon under Lt. Calley of some 25 troops was airlifted to the outskirts of the town where they began their killing spree. As they worked their way into the village, photographer Ronald L. Haberle attempted to record the events with his camera. His task was difficult however; as the...
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