Monday, March 24, 2014

My Lai: A Nation's Shame, And A Buried Tale Of Personal Heroism

The Long Shadows of My Lai
It is to the lasting shame of (1) our news media (2) Hollywood and (3) school history curricula that most people of my generation are spectacularly ignorant of My Lai. 

That includes near-universal ignorance of the heroism of Thompson, Colburn and Andreotta
Mike Wallace told the helicopter crew's story in the gut-wrenching 60 Minutes segment called "Back to My Lai"… which was first broadcast in 1998. That same year, the U.S. military officially honored the crew's actions in My Lai. Not present was the crew's third crew member, Glenn Andreotta, who was shot and killed in action three weeks after the massacre. It had taken 30 years for the U.S. government to recognize the three men. But when Thompson and Colburn first returned home after Vietnam, it was a much different story. They weren't received as heroes, but as traitors. Thompson testified about the massacre in the U.S. government's court-martial trials, but according to author Trent Angers, two Congressmen who were working in concert with Nixon, managed to seal that testimony in order to damage the cases against the culprits of My Lai. Whether it was one of the "dirty tricks" Nixon prescribed in Haldeman's 1969 meeting note is a matter of debate for historians… Thompson died in 2006, and Colburn says he was in the room with him during his final moments. With his friend gone, Colburn says he feels an obligation to carry the torch, and speak publicly about what happened in My Lai that day. But he misses having Thompson at his side.

No comments: