Here’s a challenging anniversary for Americans bent upon glorifying military veterans and war. 50 years ago, March 16, 1968, American soldiers set a standard for non-nuclear, post-Holocaust atrocities and American mass shootings, killing 5/7 of the population of My Lai, Vietnam. I was in Vietnam in ‘68, but like everyone except select Army brass, including Colin Powell, knew nothing of the massacre until November, 1969.
Lt. William “Rusty” Calley was blamed and charged with murdering 107 civilians. That leaves almost 400 other women, children and elderly as collateral damage. As I quietly put my own war crimes behind me, public support for my fellow lieutenant facilitated reduction of his punishment from life in prison to three years of house arrest. I can’t help contrasting his homecoming to those of Sgt. Bergdahl and Pvt. Manning.
April 26-28, the downtown Spokane Library will host a memorial exhibition on the My Lai Massacre, brought here by Veterans for Peace, as part of our “Vietnam: Full Disclosure” program. The exhibit is not for everyone, but may be carefully viewed as a historical reminder that Earth’s inhabitants have no greater enemy than war.