Remember the My Lai Massacre on its 50th anniversary

by Anh Lê

My Lai Massacre

The My Lai Massacre occurred on March 16, 1968, 50 years ago during the Viet Nam War. Over 500 babies, children, women and men were slaughtered by American soldiers. Many Vietnamese women and girls had been raped.

Huts were burned, livestock was killed, food supplies destroyed. Besides the My Lai Massacre that occurred that day, another massacre occurred in the nearby hamlet of My Khe.

These massacres were not an aberration during the Viet Nam War. The Pentagon emphasized “body counts.” “Shoot anything that moves” was the common order given to American soldiers in Viet Nam, and the soldiers and many Americans were indoctrinated to believe that Vietnamese were the “enemy” and calling them “gooks” and “dinks” was acceptable.

The spirits of all the babies, children, women and men who were slaughtered in My Lai and My Khe cry out to us and call on us to remember them. The war crimes that were perpetrated in My Lai and My Khe and throughout Viet Nam during the war rest on our nation’s collective conscience.

The DC Labor Chorus sings at a vigil in front of the White House marking the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre on March 16. The banner reads “My Lai: Never Again.”

Let us remember My Lai and My Khe and the Holocaust of the Viet Nam War. I hope that someday a U.S. president will visit My Lai to honor the memory of all who perished there, just as others have visited Auschwitz to honor the memory of all who perished during the World War II Holocaust.

Let us reclaim our belief in the sanctity of human life and wage war no more.

Chuc Nuoc Viet Nam Hoa Binh Mai Mai! May Viet Nam Enjoy Everlasting Peace!

Copyright © by Anh Lê, March 16, 2018. Anh Lê is a San Francisco writer and activist born in Vietnam who has worked in the Black community for decades, especially with seniors and young people. To contact him, email

Editor’s note: Don’t miss “Viet Nam: My Lai Memorial Exhibit – Remember 1968-2018 – 50 Years” running Wednesday, April 4, through Wednesday, April 11, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., at the Veterans Building in the Veterans Gallery, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Admission is free. To learn more, go to