Sunday, April 08, 2007
It's a 1972 film called Winter Soldier and it's a documentary about a testimonial event sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In February 1971, shortly after the My Lai massacre was made public, VVAW sponsored a public inquiry into war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Vietnam. The event, called the Winter Soldier Investigation, was held at a Howard Johnson hotel in Detroit and featured more than 120 combat veterans (most of them young men in their late teens and early 20s) describing atrocities they had witnessed and committed during their tours in Vietnam.
The film is captivating. It shows clearly that My Lai was in no way an isolated instance of atrocity but part of a pattern of war crimes committed by American soldiers and marines with the full knowledge of their acquiesent commanders. Listening to the veterans speak, one feels sorry for them having to live through what they did, and it seems that the things they did are natural consequences of men living under the daily stresses of war and have happened over and over again in war since Neolithic times.
I recommend that you all check it out. The film has a lot to say about Vietnam and war generally, and makes you think about what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan now.