One of the program components in the Chicago Veterans for Peace – My Lai Memorial Project invites participants to build sculptural collages and engage in dialogue in response to the question, “How do you put together whatever feelings you have about the American flag, with an atrocity like the My Lai Massacre that was done in the name of the flag?”. The collage building and the resulting dialogue stimulates deep feelings and often profound discussion. Kelly Connolly, the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, built the this sculptural collage and wrote out her response.
The feeling that is the strongest is the sense of no safety, the futility of any possible defense. The Vietnamese people are wearing regular clothes, no helmets, no way to shield themselves, they’re holding tightly to each other. Just abject terror and defiance with no possibility of being able to defend themselves. The abstract lines and stars of the U.S. flag feels like the abstract, impersonal and overwhelming force, almost like an alien entity, with no personhood, just overwhelming force and will to destroy that come out of nowhere in the middle of the villagers normal day. It does feel like two completely different ways of life and objectives encountering each other in the most horrific way. There is no exchange. It is all imposition.
More information about the My Lai Massacre: A Memorial to the Victims of the American War on the People of Viet Nam is available under Educational Resources on the Vietnam Full Disclosure website and at www.mylaimemorial.org