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American Experience: My Lai
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The documentary also covers all the players in the event, those who exposed what happen and those who tried to covered it up, and the Public. The public was as much of a player in this event and why many of the decisions that were made by the military and civilian leaders were done so. Clearly this is not a shinning moment in American history but we all should take note of it and learn from it so we don't repeat it. This American Experience feature continues the award winning series of telling different events in our history, good and bad, so we don't forget our past.
On 3/16/68, that rice paddy hamlet was leveled by men of the 23rd Division's Charlie Company, who acted under orders of Capt. Ernest Medina to kill all living things and burn all structures. They were retaliating for sniper attacks and land mines that had caused nearly 25% casualties in Company C. Some were more zealous in carrying out Medina's command than others. Lt. William Calley racked up the most kills that day.
This gruesome story, its subsequent cover-up by the military and later being brought to world attention, are deftly told in the 90 minute PBS AMERICAN EXPERIENCE episode entitled "My Lai." Old photos, film clips and audio tapes, plus modern interview excerpts of participants, witnesses and survivors are presented without editorial comment. All sides are given voice. Capt. Medina and Lt. Calley, the only man tried and convicted (of 22 premeditated murders), do not appear in modern interviews. A year before this documentary aired however, Calley publicly expressed regret for his behavior at My Lai, yet as we see here, a couple of the lieutenant's men still maintain they did nothing wrong in lining up civilians and gunning them down or shooting them as, unarmed, they exited their huts.Read more ›
Ironically, the entire My Lai Massacre is comparable to Nazi war crimes though not on such a grandiose scale. Yet the U.S. government and military chose to start at the bottom of the totem pole instead of the top when attempting to mete out justice, the exact opposite approach to that at Nuremberg. Ultimately the crimes went unpunished and swept under the rug... or the United States Flag. Obviously we have a different view of justice when dealing with our own. Such hypocracy is a worse atrocity than the mass murder itself.
Well-narrated and written, the story of this evil day starts by explaining a bit about the war, about the unit involved, straight through to its aftermath in the US. What floored me was-- the whole thing, those poor people, so many terrorized, killed, tortured for nothing--was not even really a military event, in a sense. Instead, it was a few guys in charge who made bad decisions, probably on purpose, and, psycho, seemed to want to kill. Old people. Women. Children. And then, how many other 'My Lais' were there? Who knows? More than this one. My Lai had a few good photographers/reporters there that day, as well as a helicopter pilot who deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and some good soldiers. Other hamlets weren't so lucky.
It is a scary movie. It isn't about some 'them', like Nazis or the Taliban , who did this stunning evil. It was our military, fighting for freedom. Very scary, how most people can behave if forced, or frightened, or coerced, or because of orders. Or just for hijinks. Watch this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a fantastic account of a terrible event in United states history.Published 13 months ago by Michael Gutierrez
Who is really interested in the Vietnam war and want to know what was really like and what had happened he must see this FILM.Published on April 6, 2014 by du po
I used this with my U.S. History class. It shed light on a difficult time in our history. It was well done and engaging.Published on November 19, 2013 by Bridget Collins
Presentation was first-rate, especially the interviews of those who were there. The sound effects tended to overwhelm the dialog which was very irritating.Published on October 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This documentary makes good use of a wealth videotape and still photography, well edited into a dramatic program. Highly recomended.Published on April 17, 2013 by Sharon Adams