Sunday, August 30, 2009


IMG_6150, originally uploaded by cmlamber.

William Calley apologized for the My Lai massacre last week (I'm a little behind in my news reading, post trip). I'm not entirely sure what to make of the apology or why now given his long and steadfast silence on the issue, a silence which followed a more vehement defense of his actions. Perhaps it is genuine or maybe it is self serving as the prosecutor suggests or likely somewhere between. Then there is the (in my opinion, more interesting) question of how much an apology really matters. I think it is important and a good thing. It doesn't change the fact that the massacre happened or that Calley was the only person held responsible, even to the minimal extent that he was, or that other, similar atrocities happened and received even less or more belated attention. But fairly or unfairly, Calley did become a symbol at the time of his trial of American soldiers and of the war, and he was also an important pawn in a battle over the narrative of and responsiblity for American actions, tactics, and pride in Vietnam. As such, surely an apology from him means something. Unfortunately, that discussion is not as active as it once was or at least has shifted so much that his apology has received scant attention and will likely mean less than it should.

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