Forty-five years after American troops murdered men, women and children in a village in Vietnam, LIFE.com bears witness to the horror by republishing the story of My Lai as it ran in LIFE 20 months later
(Ronald L. Haeberle — Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
The My Lai Massacre is an iconic 20th century event which reflects the USA’s attitude toward Asia and Asian people. On March 16, 1968, roughly 500 unarmed civilians in the Vietnamese village of Son My — mostly women, children, babies, and the elderly — were massacred by US troops. Many of the women were raped and some were gang-raped before being mutilated and dumped in ditches. Three US soldiers attempted to halt the massacre and were denounced in US Congress as traitors.
In my opinion, part of the contempt we see toward Asians from some US Americans (including from some other people of color who are supposedly anti-racist) is a manifestation of this political history, which also includes: (1) the invasion and colonization of the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Samoa; (2) the internment of Japanese Americans; (3) dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; (4) the invasion and partition of Korea and the establishment of a permanent military base; (5) the destruction of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
250 men and women were asked to draw what these emotions felt like in their bodies. These are the combined results
HOLY FUCK THIS IS HOW I FEEL PEOPLES EMOTIONS HOLY GOD PH MY I THINK THIS IS PROOK OH MY GOD I AM FREAKING OUT ANGER IS SHARP AND ITS IN YOUR HEAD AND HANDS SADNESS IS IN YOUR CHEST JOY IS ROUND AND ITS TRUE YOU DONT FEEL MANY EMOTIONS IN YOUR LEGS HOLY SHIT
This was a huge confidence boost for me and one of my favorite reblogs of the year
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters over darker people in the world. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.” - 1967