A MEMORIAL TO THE VIETNAMESE VICTIMS OF THE AMERICAN WAR
My Lai Memorial Traveling Exhibit provides participants with a powerful anti-war experience. The experience invites participants to make a renewed commitment to peace and social justice and provides opportunities to support initiatives working to reduce violence and militarism both at home and abroad.
My Lai as a lens
The exhibit panels on the American War in Vietnam and the My Lai Massacre provide a lens to face up to the tragic impact of our political and military actions on the people of Vietnam. Exhibit panels explore how our governmental and military policies and practices were developed, nurtured, implemented and then covered-up in a campaign that led to the killing of 2 million Vietnamese civilians during the course of the war. A campaign that allowed and even encouraged the atrocity at My Lai, and other “My Lai’s” on the ground and from the air.
Impact in the Vietnamese people
Exhibit panels expose the “true costs of war, and seek justice for the victims of war” by creating an experience where participants can fully humanize and identify with the Vietnamese, a people with a rich history and a culture with deep spiritual and personal ties to their families and their land. In the midst of the American War they experiencing being displaced, having their neighborhoods, their homes, their livelihood and their social fabric torn apart, with violent death always a possibility.
Art and dialogue
At the heart of the exhibit is a unique artistic process – building sculptural collages using images and text – to help participants engage in deep dialogue dealing with their concerns about the impact of violence and oppression in our society and in our political and military actions today.
Chicago Veterans for Peace as a Site of Conscience
Chicago Chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) is developing and implementing the Exhibit. 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 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 U.S. is now commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Chicago Veterans for Peace is a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience http://www.sitesofconscience.org as a “memory initiative”. The Coalition with their 200+ member organizations works “not only to preserve memories of historical events, but also to understand the context in which these events occurred and apply the lessons we have learned to today’s struggles for human rights and social justice”. We are using the Coalition’s resources to develop our “memory to action” process in our exhibit.
Challenging the military’s narrative
The Pentagon has a well-funded (63M), campaign to re-interpret the War in a way that promotes militarism and continuing to warge our “Endless Wars” today. The impact on people living in our war zones continues to be denied or minimized in the Pentagon’s narrative about the Vietnam War as well as in U.S. ongoing military actions. The Memorial Exhibit invites participants to challenge these narratives and not bury them in our historical conscience.