US Vets Build Peace Park at Vietnam Massacre Site
March 9, 2001
HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. veterans plan to dedicate a peace park at the
Vietnamese village of My Lai next week on the 33rd anniversary of the
Vietnam War's most notorious massacre.
Project Director Mike Boehm said the park would be dedicated with a tree
planting ceremony at the village just south of the central city of Danang
next Friday. The veterans will also dedicate a school.
"Construction has begun on the peace park and it's reached the point where
it's now ready to have trees planted," he said. "It's a symbol of new life."
As many as 500 civilians were killed at My Lai on March 16, 1968, when
troops from Charlie Company of the U.S. Army's Americal Division ran amok
during a search-and-destroy mission.
Boehm, an intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, is directing the
peace park project on behalf of the Quakers in Madison, Wisconsin.
He said he expected the ceremony would be attended by the surviving crew of
a U.S. helicopter who became heroes in the United States and Vietnam after
risking their lives to save 11 civilians from the massacre.
He said he was hoping pilot Hugh Thompson and door gunner Lawrence Colburn
would be reunited during the ceremony with Do Hoa, now in his 40s, one of
the people they rescued.
An attempt to reunite them in 1998 was thwarted as Do Hoa was at the time
in jail for petty theft.
He was eight years old at the time of the massacre.
"He turned into a juvenile delinquent, which is certainly understandable
enough after what he had gone through," Boehm said. "His whole family was
killed in the massacre at My Lai."
The U.S. lieutenant blamed for the massacre, William Calley, was convicted
and sentenced to life in jail. However, late U.S. President Richard Nixon
later intervened and he was freed after three years house arrest.
The Web site of the My Lai Peace Park is at www.mylaipeacepark.com.
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