My Lai Massacre Memorial Project

Chicago Veterans For Peace

The My Lai Massacre:

A Memorial to the Victims of the American War on the People of Viet Nam

In 2018-2019 the My Lai Memorial Exhibit was hosted by Veterans for Peace chapters in 16 cities. The interactive exhibit was created with the goal of building a commitment to nonviolence and social justice by moving participants through a process of “memory to action” that would engage them in experiencing the impact of the US War on the people of Viet Nam. The exhibit 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) developed and implemented the project. The Chicago Chapter is working on many fronts to engage the community in dialogue about militarization and its human, financial and environmental costs.

large_vietnamThe 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 Memorial Exhibit 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 continue 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.

3-21-75fbd-1429861276094The My Lai Memorial Exhibit project was partly inspired by, and partnered with, the Veterans For Peace “Viet Nam: Full Disclosure” campaign that  “aims to keep alive the anti-war perspective on the American War in Vietnam.” This is especially important, as the US is in the midst of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The US military has a 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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