PBS's "American Experience" recently presented the story of one of the most abysmally heinous incidents in American military history: the murder of approximately 500 innocent old men, women, young children and even infants in the My Lai hamlet of South Vietnam. There was not even one enemy combatant among the dead.
At the end of the program, one of the Army participants defended his actions by saying that he was doing only what he was told to do. Those are the words of a guilty man and an empty soul. The murder of innocent, unarmed old people, not to mention infants, is no more defensible than the murder of the Jewish innocents of World War II.
In August 1969, I started a 10-month tour of duty as part of the pacification program with the Marines, wherein I lived and operated around the clock with the Vietnamese people. Even after more than 30 years of war they were still able to conduct themselves in a civilized manner.
I am proud to have served, but I feel that the My Lai massacre besmirches that service.