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My Lai Achieves How does the United States Constitution influence such terrible events in US History?

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Presentation on theme: "My Lai Achieves How does the United States Constitution influence such terrible events in US History?"— Presentation transcript:






6 My Lai Achieves How does the United States Constitution influence such terrible events in US History?

7 Table of Contents 1.How did the Constitution drive the tragic events of 1968 in SE Asia? 2. Sorrow Vs. Anger (Two Perspectives of that Fateful Day) 3. The Effects of a Time Machine (What could have been avoided?)

8 Definition of Disaster What Identifies the My Lai Massacre as a Controversy?

9 Definition of Disaster-(Preface) The My Lai Massacre is the result of confused and frustrated personalities. In the weeks before this event, the members of the Charlie Company had been maimed or killed in the South Vietnamese district of Son My, a heavily mined area where the Vietcong were deeply entrenched. The agitated troops, under the command of Lt. William Calley entered the village poised for engagement with their elusive enemy.


11 Definition of Disaster-(Event) Then on March 16, 1968 the angry and frustrated men of the Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the Vietnamese village of My Lai. "This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. As the "search and destroy" mission unfolded, it soon degenerated into the massacre of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire.


13 Definition of Disaster-(Epilogue) According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped and then killed. For his part, Calley was said to have rounded up a group of the villagers, ordered them into a ditch, and mowed them down in a fury of machine gun fire. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the U.S. political establishment, the military's chain of command, and an already divided American public.


15 Definition of Disaster-(Analysis) The My Lai Massacre became a controversy when journalist Seymour Hersh published a story detailing his conversations with a Vietnam veteran, Ron Ridenhour. Ridenhour who had learned of the events at My Lai from members of Charlie Company. This led to the Pentagon to investigate the event and ultimately led to Calley being charged of murder in 1969. This investigation led to the discovery of numerous failures in leadership and discipline. Many blamed the draft policy for these problems. These questions along with the inquiry raised in the murder trail of William Calley, which was whether or not Calley was given orders from higher officials, created the cloud of controversy around the My Lai Massacre.

16 The United States Constitution Article 1 section 8 powers granted to Congress The Congress shall have Power To declare War To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers

17 The United States Constitution Article 2 Section 2 The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

18 How did the Constitution influence My Lai? Due to the situation in Vietnam US Soldiers under the direction of the President and Congress essentially were responsible to the Executive Branch for their actions during this tragic time.

19 Seymour Hersh

20 Sorrow Vs. Anger Two Perspectives of that Fateful Day

21 Vs.

22 Sorrow vs. Anger-(People of My Lai) To the people of My Lai, this massacre was a complete surprise. The investigation that was conducted by the Pentagon proved that My Lai had no military or intelligence ties with the Vietcong. In fact, if anything, the Vietcong only negated the efforts of the people of My Lai because their land was heavily mined and there was so much damage done to the land that agriculture was becoming very hard to conduct. Essentially the My Lai people were punished for something that was already punishing them.


24 Sorrow vs. Anger-(US Army) Before providing a justification for killers of this situation, one must plead the defense of rash human behavior. One must keep in mind that these soldiers had a very low morale because they had lost many friends and comrades to the efforts of the Vietcong. An army under that much pressure can easily assume that any civilian he comes in contact with is secretly working for his enemy. Furthermore, these soldiers were also ordered to conduct this act by their superior, Lt. William Calley, who was a high school drop out that was selected to serve in the armed forces via the Draft. This clear lack of motivation and discipline that was caused by the Draft ended up in the issuing of the order to kill harmless members of an already-diminishing breed.


26 The Effects of a Time Machine What could have been avoided?

27 The Effects of a Time Machine If one was to go back in time to the era before the Draft, I believe reforming the Draft system by making it more efficient at retaining the discipline and honor of a regular enlistment would be a valuable investment. This could be done by making the training portion of the Army a little more rigorous and harder to manipulate. This new process would hopefully increase the integrity of the higher ranking officials in the Army so that they are able to withstand the pressure of a combat situation with better decision-making skills.

28 The Effects of a Time Machine In essence, this change would most likely have made it impossible for William Calley to gain charge of the Charlie Company or it would have made him more immune of the acute depletion of morale that floated around in his environment.

29 History is the sum total of the things that could have been avoided. ~Konrad Adenauer

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