Witness Outside White House Remembers My Lai Massacre 50 Years Later

Vigil on the 50th Anniversary of the My Lai Massacre. About 50 people remembered the horrors of 50 years ago in Vietnam. The vigil was organized by the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee. White House. Washington DC March 16, 2018 . © Rick Reinhard 2018 email [email protected]

Here is the poem I read in front of the U.S. White House on 16 March 2018 on the anniversary of the My Lai massacre during the war against Vietnam. (It’s also published in the April 2018 issue of Sojourners magazine.)

An Outline for a Service Acknowledging War Crimes
“Has the United States ever apologized? Or are we too big to apologize?”–Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, helicoptor pilot

The Chaplains Handbook has no prayer or rite,
Nor Book of Common Prayer nor missalette,
For scrutinies that beg forgiveness from

The mutilated dead. We come contrite
For reports of helicopter gunships.
The Chaplains Handbook has no prayer or rite

For bodies observed in a ditch; the undress
Of a girl who covered only her eyes–
A scrutiny that begs her forgiveness–

Noncombatant gang rape, with bayonette.
Old age we robbed from them, our years condemn.
The Chaplains Handbook has no prayer or rite.

We confess to you, brothers and sisters,
Our Agnus Dei mocked your mutilation,
Lacked sufficient scrutiny to beg you.

“Kill anything that moves,” bloodlust, U.S.
Five hundred and four in My Lai, Son My.
The Chaplains Handbook has no prayer or rite
For scrutinies of war crimes. We beg. Forgive.

Old age we robbed from them, our own years condemn.
We confess to you, brothers and sisters,
We will remember them.

Rose Marie Berger, written for the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre (March 16, 2018)

One response to “Witness Outside White House Remembers My Lai Massacre 50 Years Later”

  1. Rose Marie, you spoke for so many of us here. I always believed we lost something vital at My Lai. Or perhaps simply proved how lost we had become. We’ve never quite “recovered” from this devastation: Recognizing a commonality with those whose blind and twisted savagery we had fought doggedly on two fronts. Ah yes . . . our own sons could do such evil. Not one benighted soul here or there, but a phalanx of casual horror, the seed of it bred into them somehow.

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