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The My Lai Massacre and the Trial of Lt. William Calley

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

26 soldiers are charged with the murder of over 100 unarmed Vietnamese women, children, babies and the elderly. This crime was committed last year by American forces led by Lt. William Calley. Leaflets had been dropped the previous day warning of the impending doom. The assumption (though no one said it) was that civilians would clear the area leaving behind only enemy forces. Company C's job was to sweep through, kill the enemy and confiscate any weapons. What actually happened was rape, murder and mayhem. Company C was fresh out of training camp. This was their first major engagement, but the military can't write this off. Too many people know about it, so Lt. Calley is put on trial for murder. The question is, is it standard procedure to put a bullet in a kid? Maybe. Previous to this engagement attacks had been coming from the rear, meaning that enemy forces were dressing as civilians, and trying to shoot troopers in the back. That famous photo of the General shooting a Vietnamese spy in the head is a classic example. Enemy combatants, out of uniform and found on the battlefield are considered spies. They are not protected by the Geneva convention. Children have been attacking the troops as well, so a soldier cannot know who is friend or foe. It is not an excuse. It is an explanation, but rape is not explainable at all. Lt. Calley claims that he did nothing wrong. Nevertheless, he is sentenced to life in prison. He is the only one convicted out of the 26 charged. [1] [2]

"I am very sorry....If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them—foolishly, I guess."
-- William Calley, August 19, 2009, making his first public apology for My Lai. [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A federal judge reviewed Cally's case and concluded that he was denied some significant rights to a fair trail. (I agree that he was denied those rights although I'm not sure they would have done him any good.) Calley was released, on June 13, 1974, but not exonerated. My sense is that he was selected by the military as the scapegoat. In the Bible, the "scapegoat" carries away the sins of the community, and dies in the process. But when a reporter named Seymour Hersh got wind of the story, the jig was up. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried the story with pictures of dead children. There was no room left for a cover-up. [4] [5]

The fire spreads to Czechoslovakia

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year, of the 6 people who committed political self-immolation, 4 of them were protesting the Communist invasion and rule of Czechoslovakia. Jan Palach protested the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and it's crushing of the Prague Spring, which crushed the spirit of the Czechs, by setting himself on fire on January 16th, and finally dies of his wounds on the 19th. This act ignited a wave of people self-immolating in protest of the USSR's treatment of it's satellite states, most notably Czechoslovakia, though Sándor Bauer's act was about the USSR. Next were Jan Zajíc, on February 25th, and Evžen Plocek on April 2nd, both taking place in Czechoslovakia. The final person to light themselves on fire to protest the treatment of the Czechs took place in the USSR. On April 13th, Eliyahu Rips, a Jewish mathematician, lit his gas soaked clothing on fire, however bystanders were able to intervene, ad he only suffered from burns to his hands and neck. He was arrested and held in custody for 2 years until his story spread among Western mathematicians, who were able to pressure the USSR for his release in 1971, and to allow him to emigrate to Israel in 1972.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
In the third major series of self-immolation taking place in the 60's, we see a third possible result of this act, the suppression of it's occurrence by the media and state. While the deaths and acts of these 4 men were moderately well known in the areas of their acts, the USSR was able to prevent coverage by any major media outlets, and prevented almost all of them from having any type of public funeral or commemoration of their lives and deaths. This sharply contrasts with the Buddhist monk's self-immolation which brought attention to the plight of Vietnamese Buddhists, or the relative indifference of both the media and history of the Vietnam protesters in America. This also shows how different forms of protests work better in different environments and systems of governments. What could be a wildly successful tactic in 1960's USSR could not gain much sympathy from the public or government in 2006 America.

The river is on fire. Again.

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

The 1960's was a time of increasing awareness of environmental issues, which set the stage for the creation of the EPA. This year, for at least the 13th time since 1868, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught on fire. What makes this fire different from the previous dozen is it's coverage by Time magazine. While not an immediate flash point for the environmental movement and the EPA's creation, the Cuyahoga River fire eventually caused an avalanche of clean water regulations, including the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and, as noted, the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. All this attention on the river helped to get many point source pollution sources to be shut down or regulated by the OEPA, helping to clean the water. The Cuyahoga River became a American Heritage River in 1998. It was also featured in Randy Newman's song "Burn On", R.E.M.'s "Cuyahoga," and Adam Again's "River on Fire".

My Take by Southpaw Ben
Interestingly, the 1969 fire was relatively mild when compared to the 1952 conflagration, which had caused in excess of $1 Million of damage, as compared to $500,000 of the 1969 fire. Also of note was the fact that the 1969 fire was such a non-event that the local media didn't cover it or take any pictures of it. Consequently, all the pictures printed in the Times article were from the much larger 1952 fire, instead of the 1969 one being reported on, which also happened to fit with the story the Times was selling better than pictures of the actual event would have. While created to help protect the environment, the EPA has become a way for the government to shut down businesses which it can't legislate out of existence, due to the push back it would receive as a result.

Bad Vibrations and "Occupy Wall Street"

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Charles Manson has been passing himself off as a guru. In this hippie generation of free love, and LSD it is easy to be misled by hucksters, hangers-on, and mass murderers. Dennis Wilson is co-founder of the Beach Boys... and he ACTUALLY SURFS! As he makes his way to his Malibu home, he picks up two girls hitchhiking. They are members of the Manson Family, a hippie commune, sharing food, love and spiritual direction with their "guru", Charlie. Wilson regards Charlie as "a little dumb," but with good musical ideas. They work together on a song, and Wilson supports the Family with food, clothing and drugs... especially penicillin. (They have a chronic problem with gonorrhea.) After $100,000 is spent, the Manson Family moves on to greener pastures such as record producer Terry Melcher, and Al Lewis who will play "Grandpa" on the popular TV series "The Munsters". Lewis has Manson babysit his children. But Manson has a new philosophy in life. He calls it "Eat the rich". One night he shows up at what he expects to be Terry Melcher's mansion, but Terry no longer lives there. Actress Sharon Tate is the current resident. Too bad for her, and her friends including Abigail Folger, the heiress to the coffee fortune. Sharon pleads for the life of her baby. She is 8 months pregnant. Her last words are "Mother... mother...." The Manson Family has dinner over her corpse. "Eat the rich. Eat the rich." The next night they do it all again at the LaBianca household. Charles Manson and his "Family" will be sentenced to death... which will be commuted to life-in-prison after California outlaws the death penalty. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK, this is all really terrible, but what does it have to do with Occupy Wall Street? I was chilled to the bone when I saw Occupy Wall Street protesters holding up three fingers and shouting "Feed the Poor! Eat the rich!" The movement even has a theme song entitled, "Eat the Rich" by Johnny Drinkwater. ([Click here].) It is easy to be misled. Question everything.... including me. [9] [10]

Notable Births

  • Linus Torvalds: Developer of the Linux kernel, a UNIX-like operating system. (Get it? U-nix / LIN-ix.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • Ron Ford (died 2016, age 46 of cancer): Mayor of Toronto. Caught smoking crack. (He always seemed drunk, but funny.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • Andrew Breitbart (died 2012 , age 43 of heart failure): Founder of Breitbart.com... a liberal turned realist. He never, EVER backed down. And funny as all get out. (FYI, he did not like Donald Trump.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Connor Trinneer: "Trip" Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise. [11]
  • -- Tyler Perry: Actor, comedian, writer, and director. Criticized for "giving black audiences what they want". (Uh...good.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • -- In Music: Ice Cube, Jay Z, and Jennifer Lopez. [11]
  • -- In Movies: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston, and Cate Blanchett (Lady Galadriel in Lord of the Rings). [11]
  • -- In Comedy: Jack Black, and Zach Galifianakis (Hosts the talk show: "Between Two Ferns") [11]

This Year in Film

FYI, I can't mention all of the significant films for this year, but they fall into the following categories:

  • -- Anti-hero: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider. [12]
  • -- Breaking the social norms: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and Cactus Flower (Hey! Goldie Hawn can act!).
  • -- Biting satire: Alice's Restaurant. (The song is really funny.--alexshrugged) [13]
  • -- Musicals...: Hello Dolly and Paint Your Wagon. [12]
  • -- Comedy...: Support Your Local Sheriff! and A Boy Named Charlie Brown. [12]

This Year in TV

  • Hee Haw: Country variety show replaces the controversial Smothers Brothers. [14]
  • Scooby-Doo: Teenagers solve mysteries with their talking dog. [14]
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: The BBC will never be the same. [14]

This Year in Music

Too many significant songs to list, but here are a few favorites from Alex Shrugged.

  • In the Year 2525 (If man is still alive...): Zager & Evans. [15]
  • Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In: The 5th Dimension. [15]
  • Love Child: Diana Ross & the Supremes. [15]
  • Pinball Wizard: The Who from their rock opera, Tommy. [15]

In Other News

  • The AIDS Virus arrives in the USA: They don't know it yet, but a young man dies of a mysterious disease later identified as AIDS. [16]
  • ARPANET sends out its first message: The Internet Age as begun. [17] [18]
  • Ted Kennedy drives off a bridge with Mary Jo Kopechne: Mary Jo is trapped in an air pocket under the car. Ted walks away. (F-YOU Ted. F-YOU, your dog and your worthless life. Oh. Did I say that out loud?--alexshrugged) [17] [19]
  • And then there is the Moon Landing, Woodstock... and everything that is more important than all of the above. (I apologize to historians everywhere. I didn't forget, but those events have been well covered, and I ran out of time.--alexshrugged) [17] [20]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1969, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. 161st Aviation Company History. 161ahc.org (2007). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “The infamous My Lai incident occurred in the AMERICAL area of operations. It was on the morning of March 16, 1968 that Hugh Thompson was flying his helicopter just above the treetops in search of enemy soldiers. It was a reconnaissance mission in support of U.S. troops on the ground. Onboard with him were Larry Colburn and Glenn Andreotta. What they saw instead was U.S. soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians and countless bodies of Vietnamese people in a ditch. To say they were stunned by what was going on would be an understatement. Thompson is recognized for his heroic and successful efforts to save the lives of innocent civilians who were being pursued by American soldiers. He has been described as the hero of the My Lai massacre – the soldier who stepped in to stop his fellow soldiers who were on a murderous rampage, totally out of control, at My Lai, South Vietnam. Danny Millians, who was flying cover in a Huey gunship, also landed and took some of the civilians to nearby Quang Ngai.”
  2. Calley’s Ghost - VQR Online (Winter 2003). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “For a time, the general wish for amnesia was forestalled by the ongoing visibility of a substantial literature of investigation. This had begun with the journalistic inquiries of Seymour Hersh and others that had first brought the massacre to light and continued, with considerable media coverage, through the official investigation and trial phases. Hersh eventually wrote two major books, the first about the massacre and the second about the coverup.”
  3. My Lai Massacre - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “On August 19, 2009, Calley made his first public apology for the massacre in a speech to the Kiwanis club of Greater Columbus, Georgia:[104][105] There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai', he told members of the club. 'I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry....If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them—foolishly, I guess.”
  4. Reporting Vietnam. Library of America, 413-427. ISBN 9781883011901. “Why did the Army choose to prosecute this case? On what is it basing the charge that Calley acted with premeditation before killing? The court-martial should supply the answers to these questions, but some of the men already have their opinions. "The Army knew it was going to get clobbered on this at some point," one military source commented. "If they don't prosecute somebody, if this stuff comes out without the Army taking some action, it could be even worse."” 
  5. Infoshop News: Kissinger Tapes Describe Crises, War and Stark Photos of Abuse (2017). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “In their conversation on Nov. 21, 1969, about the My Lai massacre, Mr. Laird told Mr. Kissinger that while he would like 'to sweep it under the rug,' the photographs prevented it. 'There are so many kids just laying there; these pictures are authentic,' Mr. Laird said.”
  6. Death of a Beach Boy - People Magazine 1/16/84 (2001). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “Charles Manson, whose 'family' moved into his palatial Beverly Hills mansion for several months, sponging some $100,000 off him and wrecking an uninsured $21,000 Mercedes. Manson and Wilson apparently collaborated on one song (Never Learn Not to Love, on the Boys' 20/20 LP), but Dennis wised up and got the maniac out of his life some time before the grisly 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. That experience left his self-confidence shaken for years.”
  7. Beach Boy Mike Love claims bandmate saw Charles Manson kill a man - NY Daily News (August 31, 2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “The singer recounted the shocking friendship between convicted killer Manson and Wilson, who allegedly watched the murderer shoot a man right before his eyes, according to a chapter from the book obtained by People. 'I just saw Charlie take his M16 and blow this black cat [man] in half and stuff him down the well,' Wilson allegedly told Love.”
  8. Terry Melcher - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “Terrence P. 'Terry' Melcher (born Terrence P. Jorden, February 8, 1942 – November 19, 2004) was an American musician and record producer who was instrumental in shaping the California Sound and American West Coast rock music, particularly during the nascent counterculture era. Melcher is also known for his involvement with murder-conspirator Charles Manson, being one of the targets of the Manson Family during the late 1960s.”
  9. Eat the Rich. Feed the Poor. on Occupy Wall Street - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 17 March 2017.
  10. Drink's Life - Eat the Rich - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 17 March 2017. “Eat The Rich is an Occupy Movement anthem covering Wall Street, Congress, the mortgage mess, the military/industrial state, drug companies, student loans and more in this comedic rap/funk political/economic satire from drink (aka John Drinkwater) feat. Franny McCartney.”
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 1969 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 1969 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
  13. Alice's Restaurant - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 16 March 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 1969 in television - Wikipedia (2017).
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 1969 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
  16. AIDS Virus Came to US Via Haiti.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 1969 - Wikipedia (2017).
  18. ARPANET - Wikipedia (2017).
  19. Chappaquiddick incident - Wikipedia (2017).
  20. Spiro Agnew - Wikipedia (2017).

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