From Oct. 2 to Oct. 7, ASU hosted the My Lai Memorial Exhibit at its Downtown Phoenix campus. The exhibit, run by Chicago Veterans for Peace, teaches visitors about the horrors of the Vietnam War, with a special focus on the My Lai Massacre of 1968.
Mac MacDevitt, committee chair of the exhibit, spoke with The State Press to enlighten the community on the tragic story of the My Lai people and the importance of youth advocacy.
The My Lai people were simple farmers in southern Vietnamese villages, and “They showed a way of life that went back to almost medieval times — everything was done by hand and water buffalo,” MacDevitt said.
The villagers were caught by surprise in the attack because American troops had been in their village before.
“They became remarkable because in 1968 about a hundred American troops landed outside their village, and they proceeded to move through the village. They had orders to kill everything that moved,” he said. “They shot everybody in the village — kids, infants, pregnant women and old people."
The massacre is infamous because it was covered up by the government for more than a year, MacDevitt said.
“In 1969, it was really a big boost for the anti-war movement," he said. "It really made people deeply question why we’re in Vietnam and what we were doing there.”
The My Lai Massacre is just the tip of the iceberg, as roughly 2 million civilians were killed throughout the Vietnam War. Throughout the past 50 years, previous information that was covered up has been made public.
“My hope is that people will really get a sense that these people are not that different than us,” MacDevitt said.
MacDevitt is continuing to run the exhibit throughout universities across the U.S., going on what he describes as a “(1960s) road trip.” The entire display fits inside a trailer that he drives from city to city, crashing on the couches of acquaintances when he needs to sleep.