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My Lai remains one of the most problematic episodes in the history of the Vietnam War and in the entire course of U.S. military history. Without question, American troops committed war crimes by killing unarmed civilians in cold blood. What has been disputed is who should be responsible for these acts and the degree to which the events that took place in a small village in South Vietnam were commonplace or an aberration. The events of My Lai and the aftermath offer an excellent case study of both officers and enlisted personnel on when and why war crime can occur. It also highlights the moral courage of some who refused to obey an illegal order and bystanders who sought justice.

The Massacre

On the morning of March ...

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