SON MY MEMORIAL As one of those long-haired uni students in the 60's who demonstrated regularly against the Vietnam War, referred to in VN as the American War, I was blown away by my visit to Son My Memorial. My opposition to this war remains as solid as I assume does the 'pride' of those who served. Early on 16 March 1968, after the area had been extensively bombed & raked by helicopter fire, the US Army landed by helicopter in 4 hamlets around the Son My district. They met with no resistance, nor did they come under fire. As the soldiers moved through they shot & bayoneted fleeing villagers, threw hand-grenades into homes & shelters, slaughtered livestock & torched dwellings. In one atrocity, up to 150 villagers were rounded up, herded into a ditch & executed. Dozens of civilians many of them the elderly, women & children were subsequently assembled & executed, whilst girls & women were gang-raped by soldiers. 504 Vietnamese were massacred that day (the USA has admitted to 347, not that that has any bearing on the atrocity). The largest mass killing took place where the Memorial now stands. A dramatic stone sculpture of an elderly woman holding up her fist in defiance, a dead child in her arms, & the injured & dying at her feet, stares down on you as you enter the site. The scene of the atrocities has been painstakingly recreated & preserved. The cement path that was formerly simple dirt tracks through the village is indented with bare-feet & large military boot prints to give the sense of barefooted villagers fleeing the troops. Participating troops were ordered to keep their mouths shut, but several disobeyed & went public on their return to the USA sparking massive public protest & fueling a certain non-acceptance towards Vietnam veterans that continues to this day. A cover up of the atrocities was undertaken by the US Army & ultimately on both a political & a judicial level with a lower ranked officer being made the scape-goat. The testimony of certain American troops there on that fateful day have collaborated the VN account of events, as have the photographs of a US military photographer who arrived on the scene shortly after the attack. A small museum on the site honours these GI's who tried to stop the carnage, shielded, even rescued a number of villagers from certain death on the day & ultimately blew the whistle on the atrocities of that day. Much of the above was somewhat lazily taken from the Lonely Planet account of events; its difficult to have the stomach to want to elaborate further. & I make no apologies for any plageurism. 'Four Hours in My Lai" by Bilton & Sim is an excellent account. Unlike the Memorials in the West glorifying past victories, this tranquil rural setting to one of the most horrific crimes of the American War runs on a shoe-string budget. It further rips away at one's sense of decency.There's no guide, no guide-book or pamphlet to take you through; whilst respectfully neat & tidy the budget clearly precludes regular garden maintenance. I have marvelled during my relatively short visit to this wonderful country at the resilience of its people & of their ability to put hardship & adversity behind them as they move forward in search of a better life.