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Spokane Veterans Remember Vietnam's My Lai Massacre, This Day 53 Years Ago

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

On Tuesday, members of Spokane’s chapter of Veterans for Peace looked back 53 years to the My Lai massacre, an event some believe turned American public opinion against the Vietnam War.

Here are a few moments from the gathering at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Riverfront Park, starting with the chapter’s vice president, George Taylor.“Today we are here at this sacred place to remember the 504 innocent, unarmed Vietnamese civilians who were killed at the hamlet of My Lai [me lie] on this day, on this morning, 53 years ago. In the stillness of that morning, U.S. Army Company C, at the direct command of Lt. William Calley, opened fire, indiscriminately, on the unarmed villagers, without provocation. My Lai was not the only instance of rape, torture and murder, of U.S. troops in Vietnam. But in terms of intensity and scale, it was penultimate massacre of the war," George Taylor said.

“If we do not recognize events like My Lai for what they are, if we turn away and act like nothing happened, then we numb our conscience and we numb our sense of right and wrong. I think we become less human," Tom Charles said.

[bell tolls]

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
Rusty Nelson from the Spokane Veterans for Peace chapter reads from his poem about My Lai during Tuesday's ceremony.

“I can’t tell you the truth about the massacre because I was living the lie and being paid to follow orders, follow the leader, follow the pitiful pattern of might makes right until we clearly see that everything is wrong," Rusty Nelson reads an excerpt from his poem written for the 53rd anniversary of the My Lai massacre.