A Little Bit of Courage Goes a Long Way
On March 16, 1968, Hugh Thompson, a light helicopter pilot with a 2-man crew, was assigned to provide support to an infantry company moving through a village in Vietnam. As he flew a figure 8 pattern over the village, not taking any fire from the ground himself, he kept noticing clusters of bodies. At first, he thought it was because of an errant artillery barrage which had preceded the assault. But the groups of bodies got larger with every pass. He saw a teenage girl crawling away, wounded, and marked her position with green smoke, thinking she would be provided medical care by the Army soldiers on the ground. Instead, from a distance of 5 feet, Ernest Medina, the captain in charge of the ground unit, raised his M-16 and shot her in the head.
Now, 54 years later, at home in America, we’ve reached a moment in our history where an ex-President who has orchestrated a giant lie about the election he lost, is once again implying violence. Last week, he called for his supporters to take to the streets if he is charged with crimes by prosecutors in New York or DC. He has tens of millions of supporters, hundreds of thousands of them veterans of military service, just like us. They parade around with guns and plate carriers, threatening violence.
This is not appropriate behavior of citizens in the United States of America, and this incitement will stand if it is allowed to. It will take moral courage to speak out publicly against creeping fascism, especially when it comes from our former brothers and sisters in arms. It will take some degree of physical courage, because the reason grown men and women prance around with AR’s is not for protection, but for intimidation. But you, my fellow citizens, possess both in abundance. Our generation fought 20 years of war, and our generation spoke out against the Clint Lorance’s and the Eddie Gallagher’s.
Just like Hugh Thompson, who landed his helicopter in between American troops and a group of Vietnamese civilians cowering in a ditch. Had his gunner point his machine gun at US soldiers, and told him if they opened fire, to shoot the American soldiers. The civilians lived, Thompson flew off and immediately reported the massacre to his superiors, and the My Lai massacre was over.
God help us if we forget what a little bit of courage can do.