Travelers flock to central Vietnam to commemorate My Lai Massacre

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 US tourists offer incense to victims of the My Lai massacre at the Son My Memorial and Museum in Tinh Khe Commune

Locals and foreign tourists commemorated the 45th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in the central province of Quang Ngai on March 15, news website VnExpress reported Saturday.

Exactly 504 helium balloons were released into the sky in remembrance of the 504 people, mostly women and children from My Lai and My Khe hamlets of Son My village, who were killed by the US Army in a flurry of wanton bloodlust on March 16, 1968.

When the bell of the Son My Memorial and Museum in Tinh Khe Commune rang out, thousands of people bowed their heads in minute of silence dedicated to the victims. They also offered incense a Vietnamese custom to honor the dead.

Ronald Haeberle, a US photojournalist, who captured the massacre in 60 pictures he published, leading to a US government investigation into the case, also gave a presentation at the ceremony.

Upon meeting Do Ba, a man who was lucky to survive the massacre as an eight-year-old boy thanks to US soldiers who did not participate in the slaughter, Haeberle said the infamous bloodbath had always haunted him, and that he hoped that time would heal the wounds of My Lai.

Taking a group of students to Vietnam for the occasion, Professor Hirosui Fujimoto of Japan's Nanzan University, said that like Japan, Vietnam suffered tremendously from the effects of warfare and that he empathizes heavily with My Lai's pain. This trip was the fourth time Professor Fujimoto took a group of students to Vietnam.

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Along with members of Madison Quakers Inc. a US-based nonprofit organization which does philanthropic work in central Vietnam's Quang Ngai Province, including providing micro-loans to poor rural women in areas heavily affected by Agent Orange US singer Tony Brown, Fujimoto and his students awarded 30 students of Tinh Khe 1 Elementary School in Son Tinh Town with scholarships worth VND1 million each.

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