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Lt. Calley and the My Lai massacre

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  • Lt. Calley and the My Lai massacre

    Hi, everyone my first post here. So I'm writing a research paper on the My Lai massacre and as my topic I chose to write about Lt. Calley's responsibility for the My Lai massacre. I need a primary research tool and I figured what better than to ask people who are knowledgable and enjoy the topic.

    What I'd like to do is take a poll, and see if you think whether Lt. Calley is responsible/guilty for the My Lai massacre, can you please justify your answer. Was his final sentance just? What is your take/opinion on the My Lai massacre in general, was it preventable or was it an outcome of over whelming stress and anxiety? Any comments about the massacre in general are welcome too. Also if you could please leave your name with the post so if I use your ideas in my paper I can list you in my works cited page. If you'd rather not I can use your handle.

    Thank you all, Matt

  • #2
    Matt,

    My Lai was a terrible tragedy. However, it is studied out of proportion to its role in the Vietnam war. Often it is used as an indictment of American involvement in Vietnam in general, and this is wrong. Those would be two separate and distinct issues.

    I would suggest, in the interest of balance, that you also include in your paper at least one notable example of Communist atrocity. They commited far more atrocities than the Americans every dreamed of, yet most students never hear about any of these. However, the information on these things is available for those who choose to look.

    My opinion of My Lai is that, in the politically charged atmosphere of the times, it was impossible to find justice. The anti war movement was trying to use My Lai in an effort to force the Americans to abandon their Vietnamese Allies, so because of this those who supported the Vietnamese were reluctant to pursue the matter because they knew it would be used against them. It was a no win situation for anyone because politics eliminated any chance of objective justice.

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    • #3
      I would love to dive more into the atrocities of communist government, however, for this paper the class has been restricted to famous court trials, I happened to choose Calley's trial. So I'm not possitive as to how I could work this into my paper that is mostly focused on Lt. Calley's actual trial. I'm open to suggestions on how I may be able to work in an example into the paper though.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by monster mopar View Post
        I would love to dive more into the atrocities of communist government, however, for this paper the class has been restricted to famous court trials, I happened to choose Calley's trial..
        Then out of curiosity, why did you pick Calley's trial? Why not OJ or something like that?

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        • #5
          I recommend you read the court transcripts.

          According to the lieutenant he was following the orders of his battalion commander. But, since the colonel had died prior to My Lai coming to public attention or anyone being charged as the Vietnamese say, "Ai biet?" (Who knows?).

          Then again, maybe you can just wait for the Oliver Stone movie with Sean Penn to come out. I'm quite confident it will be unbias and based on the unvarnished truth.
          "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by trailboss49 View Post
            I recommend you read the court transcripts.


            Then again, maybe you can just wait for the Oliver Stone movie with Sean Penn to come out. I'm quite confident it will be unbias and based on the unvarnished truth.

            Trailboss, that Oliver Stone movie will be about as unbiased as Walter Cronkite's reporting on the Tet Offensive. Walter Cronkite what an "objective" reporter he was, now wasn't he. I wonder if he'll have a cameo appearence in the Oliver Stone movie.

            "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug" 'The Bug'

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            • #7
              I'm just waiting for Cronkite's cameo role in hell.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Swampwolf View Post
                I'm just waiting for Cronkite's cameo role in hell.
                Maybe Cronkite and Rather will fry in the same pan, they deserve each other.
                "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post
                  Then out of curiosity, why did you pick Calley's trial? Why not OJ or something like that?
                  Well the professor wanted the issues to be done and over so to speak, and the parties involved to be out of the spot light or dead. As we know OJ is still very much in the spot light and alive, I also wanted to do something different, some thing that could relate to my degree on some sort of level (I'm a criminal justice major) I wanted to do the Rodney King beating but it was a forbidden trial as well. I figured this is good for me to analyze it because I can relate to it by comparing it to police brutality, and use of force continuums.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by monster mopar View Post
                    Well the professor wanted the issues to be done and over so to speak, and the parties involved to be out of the spot light or dead.
                    I do not believe that Lt. Calley is a DONE DEAL - he is alive and his name and incident comes up whenever there is some sort of problem with the way G.I.'s act in the field. You and/or your Prof may be a little anti-military; or not.

                    Don't believe your reasoning or your Prof's reasoning stands up as to this trial being a done deal and only a part of history that won't or doesn't affect folks.

                    I was a Lt. Platoon Leader in Vietnam (like Calley) only in 1967 and 1968 and the times were very stressful when folks were shooting at you and you couldn't shoot back (somewhat the same problems OUR present day G.I.'s in IRAQ are experiencing today). And believe you me some POLITICIANS of today have this incident in their minds and use it whenever they can.

                    I figured this is good for me to analyze it because I can relate to it by comparing it to police brutality, and use of force continuums.
                    Maybe! But it's a far reach to comparing it to police brutality.

                    You, young man, are about the same age as Lt. Calley was at the time. What would you do if under the stress of having you and the men your responsible for being shot at, and not being able to shot back (day after day). During these times, like today, WOMAN and KIDS did shot at us (most the time they were forced "or not" - but the bullets still killed). You may have also SNAPED!

                    Lt. Calley was very wrong in shooting and/or having his men shoot innocent civilians, and he should have served more time than what he did serve. I also believe that his Capt, and a few more of his men should have paid a heavier price for what they did. The political mix was also terrible during those times, and were reflected in the outcome and disposition of the trial, and punishment received.

                    I say again, the incident was wrong; but I can well understand how it happened.

                    KEN
                    DO NO HARM
                    Last edited by KEN JENSEN; 19 Oct 07, 02:02.
                    1st ID, 1/28th '67/'68 Phouc Vinh & Quan Loi
                    Skirmishes Bu Dop Dec-67, An My, Thu Duc Feb-68
                    Plt. Ldr - CIB, Purple Hearts, Silver Star
                    What we write can be considered to be a reflection of our SOUL providing others to know our CHARACTER.

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                    • #11
                      If your professor wants a topic a bit less controversial as this one seems to be how about leaving Vietnam and going for how about the Mcarthy trials of the 50's or Im reaching now the famous Al Capone trial of the 30's .Just a thought.

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                      • #12
                        I will give you some advice that a wise and experienced professor once gave me. This is very cynical but I think true.

                        We all like to think of ourselves as objective, but no matter how hard we try it is impossible to separate ourselves from our personal feelings. It is much easier to give a good grade to a student who cares about the subject and agrees with us than one who doesn't.

                        Your future is more important than one class. You must think about that first.

                        Through informal conversations and discussions try to ascertain what your professor believes about this particular subject. Once you have figured this out research and write your paper in such a way as to support these beliefs.

                        What do the professors always say about writing papers? Write to your audience, Well, this is a form of that concept, even if they don't mean it quite that way.

                        Consider it a form of cultural sensitivity. Academic culture that is.
                        Last edited by Miss Saigon; 19 Oct 07, 13:11.

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                        • #13
                          Monster Mopar

                          My first question to you is what is your motivation on writing this. I do not buy your explanation you gave earlier. I get the feeling you have a different motivation than you said.

                          You need to realize, you are talking to Vietnam veterans and we have been attacked by citizens of this country for over 30 years. I was spit on at SeaTac when I returned home. Your location says Washington, so I assume it means Washington State.

                          You are talking to people that have seen the "elephant" and have somehow come through it and are now still trying to heal old wounds from that era. People that never went to Vietnam Have no idea the stress the soldiers were under in combat.

                          I know you are not getting the answers you expected, but please realize we have old wounds that are still healing.

                          In my opinion, Lt. Calley was a scapegoat for his superiors. I think what happened was horrible, but more people should be held accountable.

                          Most veterans do not dwell on Calley's trial so you will probably not get what you are seeking here.

                          Maybe you could incorporate into your story the answers you received from this site. Most posters here are scepticle of people when they ask questions like you have, because time and again it is just someone coming here to get into arguments and cause trouble. I am not saying you are, but we see it all the time.

                          The only thing I have to say about his trial has already been said in this post. I have nothing else to say.

                          By the way, I have been involved in law enforcement for 32 years. You made a wise choice in your major.
                          Last edited by medevac; 19 Oct 07, 13:09.

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                          • #14
                            KEN JENSEN-Yea I know Lt. Called is still alive, apparently the professor decided that the trial was a done enough to be acceptable. We were given a list of preapproved trials and Lt. Called was on the list. Like I said I was hoping to research the Rodney King beating but it was too recent.

                            Copenhagen- Contraversy is good; I'm writing an argumentative research paper.

                            Miss.Saigon-Yea I've heard of students doing this and I think it is a wise approach; however it doesn't work for me. In order for me to have a quality finished product I need to truly believe in what I'm doing or in this case writing. The professor seems very interested in my point of view. Students in the past have basically condemned Lt. Called, so I think in this case a different view on things will actually benefit me more.

                            Medivac-I'm sorry you're not buying my motivation behind picking this trial but it is my true motivation. Like I said I wanted to write about the Rodney King beating but his trial was off limits. So I chose some thing that I can relate to on some sort of level, plus Lt. Calley's case really interested me. The only thing unmentioned is the fact that in order for me to be able to write about Rodney King in my next paper for the class I needed a trial that can relate some how some way, even if it's really miniscule

                            I didn't come here to start arguments; I came here to get information and opinions from the people that served/serve this country, the opinions that matter in my eyes. May be I made a mistake by not say my opinion first. I'm defending Lt. Called in my paper; I realize the great deal of stress that was imposed on all the soldiers. I do think what he did was wrong but I still stand up for him, but I also think any man in his shoes would have done the same thing. I couldn't imagine not being able to profile your enemy, getting shot in the back by people of all ages and genders. I do think he was used as a military scapegoat and yes he shouldn't have gotten any more than a slap on the wrist.

                            So once again it was not my intention to not start any fights or arguments, so if I've made anyone upset I apologize.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am not upset, but I hope you understand where I am coming from. There are several threads going on in other areas that were started by people just looking for a fight. I accept your explanation.

                              As I said, I feel he was a scape goat for the superiors. I don't agree with what he did, but I can understand the stress that drove them to do it. You will notice that not many people are giving you anything you can use. The reason being is as someone else said, that it was a very small part of the war and we were just trying to stay alive. There are some real vets here on this site and some that claim to be. I have my own opinion who I think they are.

                              Anyway, I am sorry I don't have much information for you. The only thing I know is from the news casts from back then. If I can be of further help, just let me know.

                              Comment

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