The my lai memorial exhibit
"Kill anything that moves." -Captain Ernest Medina
They forgot to kill the wind
that spread the truth
to distant hearts and minds.
They forgot to kill the conscience
that moved some soldiers
to tell what they saw.
They forgot to kill the photographers
whose pictures cast the corpses
before eyes that could not unsee them.
And they forgot to kill the ghosts
that still haunt us from dirty ditches
where angry, frightened men
aimed to kill their frustration
but killed 504 defenseless people instead.
Fifty years on, they cannot kill
the memory that arises still
from the tender patties
of our hearts.
Detroit – October 12, 2018
Found in the Memorial Exhibit Journal
“AS INFAMOUS AND TERRIBLE AS THE MY LAI MASSACRE WAS, WHAT IS WORSE IS THAT IT WAS NOT UNIQUE. CERTAINLY THERE WERE OTHER MASSACRES OF VIETNAMESE CIVILIANS BY AMERICAN AND SOUTH KOREAN TROOPS, AND THE VIETNAMESE OF BOTH SIDES ALSO COMMITTED ATROCITIES AGAINST EACH OTHER. THE TRAGEDY AT MY LAI SYMBOLIZES WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WAR IS UNLEASHED BY GOVERNMENTS, PARTIES, AND REVOLUTIONS. WAR CANNOT BE CONTAINED BY IDEALS AND LAWS. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COLLATERAL DAMAGE. THE DEATH OF CIVILIANS AND INNOCENTS—AND THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE ITSELF—IS NOT ACCIDENTAL BUT BUILT INTO WAR. MEMORIALIZATION IS THEREFORE NOT ONLY ABOUT COMMEMORATING THE DEAD, BUT ALSO REMINDING US THAT THE FORCES THAT KILLED THEM REMAIN WITH US AND WITHIN US.”
-Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen read at the opening of the My Lai Memorial Exhibit at Arizona State University in October
… the tragic impact of our political and military actions on the people of Vietnam though our panels on the My Lai Massacre and the Vietnam War. Experience the Vietnamese as a proud and cultured people with long history of resisting foreign domination. A people who in the midst of the American War were wounded, killed and had their villages, their homes, their livelihood and their social fabric torn apart. Learn how our governmental and military policies and practices developed, nurtured, implemented and then covered-up a campaign that led to the killing of 2 million Vietnamese civilians during the course of this war; a military campaign that allowed and encouraged the atrocity at My Lai, and other mass killings on the ground and from the air with bombs and artillery shells.
SHARE YOUR ART
Engage in a unique and powerful artistic process developed by VFP member/ artist Mac MacDevitt. Give voice to your thoughts and feelings by building a sculptural collage, engage in dialogue, and share your artwork and comments with other participants and on social media.
ACT FOR JUSTICE & PEACE
Ask if the Vietnam war was necessary, just and moral. Ask if we continue to make the same mistakes in our wars today. Wars that cause death, destruct, and floods of refugees, just like in Vietnam. Make amends for the damage Americans caused the Vietnamese people. Renew your commitment to work for peace and social justice in the world today. Explore organizations that are doing remediation work in Vietnam and local initiatives working for social justice.
Where we've been
In 2018-2019 the My Lai Memorial Exhibit was hosted by Veterans for Peace chapters in 16 cities:
New York City
From the exhibit journal
“I walked into the exhibit steeling myself — already in tears. I thought I knew about My Lai; I had read everything I could about it when Seymour Hersh’s articles came out. However, as it turned out, I knew very little — or perhaps the passage of time or the simple shock of the horror had made me block out what I had learned. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the emotional impact of what I saw yesterday. How do we, as a nation, ever atone for this?”
“The exhibit, it words and images together, scorch my consciousness. The men and women of Veterans for Peace have created a powerful, truth-filled homage to the men, women and children, who suffered at American hands. Thanks to all men and women who resisted and continue to resist. I promise to be more militant for peace.”
“An amazing documentation of some of the most horrendous crimes committed on the people of Vietnam… so important for Americans to know this truth so that we can have a foundation to know better how to think, feel and hopefully act in regard to today’s policies of war by the U.S. government. A very important and concise and thoroughly-covered resource for us all. Thank you… may it be seen by many.”