Stone statue memorial of Communist resistance to Vietnam War at Mai Lai
A stone statue memorializes Communist resistance to the Vietnam War at Mai Lai. The Soviet-style statue shows a woman standing erect with her right fist raised up toward the sky. A limp baby dangles from her left arm. Three other adults, including one man with a beard, sit fallen over at the woman's feet. The statue represents the innocent civilians (symbolized by the woman wearing a long dress with her hair in a bun) who suffered terrible losses (symbolized by the limp baby) yet bravely stood up to the American army aggressors. Communist art is often characterized by boldly realistic or abstract figures representing the noble commoner fighting an unjust oppression. Communist political symbolism is usually easy to interpret because it is aimed towards popular understanding by the uneducated masses.
In 1968, U.S. forces considered the My Lai area to be a stronghold of Communist Vietnamese fighters (known as Vietcong) and their sympathizers. Repeated bombing of the region only increased the support of local civilians for the Communist fighters. After an order was given to U.S. troops to attack My Lai Village, American soldiers killed hundreds of mostly women, children, and elderly with brutal methods.
Photographs and reports about the atrocities at My Lai led many Americans who thought little about the Vietnam War to conclude that it was not a war they wished to support. Increasingly, the U.S. government decided to reduce civilian killings and military deployments in Vietnam. American forces gradually were withdrawn and then the southern capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Communist forces on April 30, 1975.
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