A Memorial to the Victims of the American War on the People of Viet Nam
The goal of the My Lai Massacre Memorial Project is to build a commitment to nonviolence and social justice by moving participants thru a memorial exhibit with a process of “memory to action” that engages participants in experiencing the impact of the US War on the people of Viet Nam, provides a medium for interaction and dialogue, and offers options to support existing remediation and social justice efforts.
Chicago Chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) is developing and implementing the project. Veterans For Peace is an international organization made up of military veterans, military family members and allies. We are dedicated to building a culture of peace, exposing the true costs of war and healing the wounds of war. The Chicago Chapter is working on many fronts to engage the community in dialogue about militarization and its human, financial and environmental costs.
The exhibit explores a question posed by investigative journalist Jonathan Schell, “How did a country – that believes itself to be guided by principles of decency – permit such savagery to break out, then allowed it to continue for more than a decade?” The My Lai Massacre provides a lens to explore how conditions in the military were developed, nurtured, implemented and then covered-up allowing and even encouraging the atrocity at My Lai.
The Massacre also opens a wide-angle lens to look at how these same conditions in our military and our society can lead to widespread military operations – best categorized as indiscriminate warfare on a civilian population, in this case Viet Nam where an estimated 2 million civilians were killed and 5 million more were wounded. These realities continued to be denied or minimized in the narrative both about the Viet Nam War and US military actions since the war that are promoted by the military, seldom challenged by US society-at-large and then pushed to the background of our historical conscience.
The project is inspired by, Vietnam – Full Disclosure, a campaign by Veterans for Peace, which “aims to keep alive the anti-war perspective on the American War in Vietnam”. This is especially important as the US is now commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The US military has well-funded (43M), key role in re-interpreting the War with little regard to the historical and on-going impact of the war on the civilian population of Viet Nam.
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