My Lai Massacre
Posted 12 December 2009 - 01:38 PM
Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:12 PM
Was Richard Nixon right to commute William Calley's sentence to three years' house arrest?
The US army officer convicted for his part in the notorious My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War has offered his first public apology, a US report says.
"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened," Lt William Calley was quoted as saying by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.
He was addressing a small group at a community club in Columbus, Georgia.
Calley, 66, was convicted on 22 counts of murder for the 1968 massacre of 500 men, women and children in Vietnam.
"I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry," the former US platoon commander said on Wednesday.
Bodies of women and children lie in the road leading to the village of My Lai, following the massacre
The My Lai massacre was a turning point in the Vietnam War
He was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings in 1971. Then-US President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to three years' house arrest.
But Calley insisted that he was only following orders, the paper reported.
He broke his silence after accepting a friend's invitation to speak at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club, a US-based global voluntary organisation.
At the time of the killings, the US soldiers had been on a "search and destroy" mission to root out communist fighters in what was fertile Viet Cong territory.
Although the enemy was nowhere to be seen, the US soldiers of Charlie Company rounded up unarmed civilians and gunned them down.
When the story of My Lai was exposed, more than a year later, it tarnished the name of the US army and proved to be a turning point for public opinion about the Vietnam War.
To answer your original question: no. Nixon did it to appease Americans who felt the military could do no wrong, and to fend off those questioning his own policies. The military was all set to bring charges against a number of soldiers beyond Calley, including a number of officers. By commuting Calley's sentence, Nixon convinced them that bringing further charges was not worth the time and effort. He, in effect, swept the deliberate murder of hundreds of civilians under the rug for political purposes. Pretty sickening.
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