With apologies to all

Finally, an apology that matters.  Former Lt. William Calley, now 66, used an appearance before the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus to apologize for his role in the My Lai massacre more than 40 years ago.  Said Calley:   “There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai.  I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families.  I am very sorry.”

Calley, who has always contended that he was following orders, directed his platoon to kill civilians in the South Vietnamese hamlets of My Lai and My Khe.  He was convicted and given life sentences in 22 deaths. The sentence was later reduced by President Richard Nixon.  Calley, who avoids the media, now lives in the Atlanta area.

What makes this apology different from the wave of apologies for past transgressions that have become commonplace — the recent Japanese apology to the American  soldiers who suffered the Bataan Death March, for example — is that it comes from somebody who actually had a role in the offense for which the apology is issued.

It’s customary now for those who weren’t participants to apologize for actions taken by ancestors who are now dead.  Apologies by those who lack culpability for crimes and inhumanities that occurred in decades or generations past are gestures without substance.  Even when the apology might come with grants of compensation,  unless it’s from individuals responsible and is to compensate actual victims, it provides no meaningful relief.

Calley’s apology is timely and sincere.  The next-of-kin of many of the victims are undoubtedly still living. The apology is from one responsible to one harmed.  It is an apology that matters.

72 comments Add your comment


August 25th, 2009
8:12 am

I hope his heart is at ease.


August 25th, 2009
8:52 am

According to John Kerry, Calley was no differant than the rest.


August 25th, 2009
9:09 am

It amazes me that, after all the history before us, some people are still dense enough to think that going to war will somehow result in a “happy ending.” Sometimes there is an imperative or a goal, but there is no happy ending for those who were there.


August 25th, 2009
9:19 am

OK when is Bush and Cheney going to apologize to America for their made up WAR ?


August 25th, 2009
9:28 am

I suppose that if Lt.Calley feels a need to apologize that’s up to him.He’s had a lot of time to reflect.If an apology eases his burden,so be it.

RINO Watch

August 25th, 2009
9:29 am

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele will be doing some damage control with one of the GOP’s leading Senate candidates after agreeing with a talk show host’s diatribe against Missouri congressman Roy Blunt.

On an interview last Friday with Missouri-based conservative talk show host Vincent Jericho, Steele agreed with the host’s commentary that Blunt is emblematic of the Republican Party’s recent woes. Jericho went on to accuse Blunt of adultery and argued that “guys like Papa Blunt makes us sick to our stomach.’

Steele’s response: “I agree with you. And when stuff gets in the crapper, you gotta clean it out.”

Longtime Blunt confidant Gregg Hartley, after hearing the interview, called for Steele’s resignation on his Twitter feed: “RNC Chair Michael Steele should be preparing an apology to Congressman Blunt and submit his resignation.”

Your name is "Peter"? - now that's funny

August 25th, 2009
9:32 am

Shut up, Peter.


August 25th, 2009
9:49 am

Lt. Calley was placed in a command position that he was emotionally and intellectually ill-prepared to execute ! Most 2nd Lt. during Viet Nam had the same shortcomings – Ask General Powell about his findings of Lt. Calley’s actions ?

Get Real

August 25th, 2009
9:57 am

Soooo Wooten, even though the people who were killed aren’t alive to accept the apology his next of kin is good enough. I don’t see a difference as you say the apology should come from those that were there, but what good is that when they’re apologizing to people that weren’t? Being that you say those who weren’t there shouldn’t be offering an apology. Kinda confusing is your logic.

Elephant Whip

August 25th, 2009
10:01 am

It’s amazing that Wooten can turn a vet’s sincere apology about war crimes into an attack on other measures taken by governments and other entities to make amends to people harmed by those parties in the past. Sometimes, the only people that can be apologized to are the descendants of the victime who often still experience the repercussions of those historic travesties.


August 25th, 2009
10:05 am

To matter, an apology has to directly admit culpability. “I feel remorse for what happened…”, “I feel remose for the Vietnamese who were killed,for their families, for the American soldiers who were involved and their families…” – such remarks, witr their weaseling use of the passive voice, do not admit responsibility. “I led a massacre”, “I’m sorry I killed the Vietnamese villagers”, “I ordered American soldiers to commit atrocities that have undermined their ability to recover from the trauma of war” – these words reflect the facts and indicate true remorse. Such admission is powerful and healing, which is why it is a cornerstone of any twelve step program. Without it, the apology is meaningless, another shield for the guilty to hide behind and another slight to the injured.

I have no malice towards Mr. Calley. He is merely once again following the lead of others, like today’s panoply of greedy financiers and deceitful politicians who look at the wreckage they have caused and, under duress, say “I’m sorry it happened” instead of “I’m sorry I did it.” Until they have the courage and honesty to say the latter, they will neither learn nor change, and their apologies are meaningless.

The Snark

August 25th, 2009
10:06 am

BOB, John Kerry never said that “Calley was no different from the rest.” That’s your fantasy. But he certainly isn’t the only Viet Nam veteran who says that there were other Calleys over there. Not by a long shot.


August 25th, 2009
10:14 am

It’s obvious that Peter and JLK have much greater intellectual capacity than the rest of us. Peter; suppose we didn’t commit to Iraq. Would we still have the “No flyover rule” that President Clinton did nothing about? How would you feel if Iranian influence was successful in gaining control over Iraqi oil reserves?
If you didn’t know, Iran imports gasoline because their refineries can’t get the sulfur out of their own crude oil. The Iranian mullahs would love to control access to the Shatt-al-Arab water way. If they had control over Iraqi crude and access to the Gulf, think of all the havoc the Iranians and their good friends could wreak.
Bush and Cheney just made it up. Right? What am I missing?


August 25th, 2009
10:16 am

Those who never served should not be enabled to pass judgement on those who served.

JF McNamara

August 25th, 2009
10:17 am

I understand your purpose is to put a light on the fact that it matters who gives an apology, but you’re implicitely patting a guy on the back who is responsible for the massacre of 22 civilians.

He’s probably walking around free playing with his Grandkids after an his participation in a premeditated atrocious act. I’m glad he stood up and apologized, but he’s still responsible for doing a terrible thing.


August 25th, 2009
10:21 am

Tall, so you admit the invasion of Iraq was all about who controls the oil and really had nothing to do with 9/11 as we were told at the time? Thanks for your honesty!


August 25th, 2009
10:22 am

“Calley’s apology is timely”
“his role in the My Lai massacre more than 40 years ago.”

one of these things is not like the other


August 25th, 2009
10:37 am

I realize, as we all do and did at the time, that officers and politicians far up the line were responsible for issuing the orders that Lt. Calley followed that day. The same can be said for the lower rank soldiers at Abu Ghraib and the interrogators who are now being exposed. However, at some point each one of us may reach of point of having to say, “THIS I will NOT do.” Although I do appreciate Lt. Calley’s apology, the words “what happened” and “were killed” do not ring like acceptance of responsiblity. More appropriate words would be “the massacre my unit carried out” and “my solders shot to death.”


August 25th, 2009
10:38 am

Do we control Iraqi crude reserves? It is a simple question with a two letter answer. It takes a great deal of money to finance terrorist activities. Oil reserves are a good way to finance it. But, you know that already.


August 25th, 2009
10:42 am

I guess “Tall” is telling “Tall Tales”…making up stuff……kind of like Bush and Cheney did !

Didn't serve

August 25th, 2009
10:47 am

Operman1 “Those who never served should not be enabled to pass judgement on those who served.”

I didn’t serve. My brother served in Vietnam, my first cousin was killed in Vietnam, I lost two dear friends, one killed in Vietnam, one who came home from Vietnam and was unable to cope with what he went through and less than six months after coming home decided to end it by blowing his brains out. (His name should be on the VN Memorial but isn’t. He died there as surely as the ones who came home in body bags.) Do you feel I can’t understand the men (and some women, I didn’t know any) who served and what they went through? Personally, I know what Caley did was wrong. Lots of bad things happened in Vietnam. I don’t have to, or desire to pass judgement on him. Judgement was made of years ago at his trial. I do think he was left holding the bag when some of the brass should have taken the fall with him.

Still feel those who didn’t serve don’t understand?


August 25th, 2009
10:55 am

I love how the libs take this post and turn it into a bush/cheney hate fest.

nice post, Jim.

T Knight

August 25th, 2009
11:10 am

Mr. Calley has apologized so he should be forgiven. It means so much more to me than the one Jane Fonda NEVER gave. People died as a result of their actions but Lt. Calley is the only one who went to prison.

Tired of BS

August 25th, 2009
11:13 am

Peter if you weren’t such a nimrod it might be worth engaging you. However you are a nimrod so go on drinking your Bush/Cheney bashing koolaide.


August 25th, 2009
11:17 am

Operman 1 – The Constitution specifically and clearly makes our military responsible to civilian authorities. For a demonstration of why this is a good idea, take a glance at the military dictatorship of your choice.

I understand that those who have not experienced war cannot walk in the veterans’ shoes. That is as true for the half of the population who are barred by their gender from being allowed to fight as it is for the armchair soldiers who never get outside the Pentagon. Just as we are collectively responsible for unleashing the military, we are collectively responsible for the reason they are sent and the conduct of the war. Therefore, we are all required, Constitutionally and morally, to pass judgement, and to temper justice with mercy.

Elephant Whip

August 25th, 2009
11:26 am


What if the newly-installed “democratic republic” of Iraq wants to make a deal with Iran about refining oil? If they pass laws and regulations within their government to do so, do you suggest we make another “regime change?”


August 25th, 2009
11:39 am

To Elephant Whip

August 25th, 2009
10:01 am

In support of your posting:
Everyone in the world should stand up and apologize to everyone else, as every nation and nationality has at times been slighted and worse. Now we are done and everyone can get on with their lives.


August 25th, 2009
11:57 am

If you have ever killed anyone in the name of war…please stand up and apologize. Ok, now a big world group hug…


August 25th, 2009
11:59 am

Is this the same John Kerry who fired an M16 into a bag of rice, and got a purple heart for have some of the rice pulled out of his leg? By the way he insisted to his superior officers that he deserved a medal for hurting himself. Or the same John Kerry that admits to shooting Vietnamese in the back as they ran away? Or the same John Kerry that had a film crew follow him into the boat he rode in? I would not let that idiot clean my toilets…..


August 25th, 2009
12:04 pm

I agree with your concept of if you didn’t serve,don’t criticize.

Which civilians am I responsible to?The ones who wanted the war or the ones who didn’t?


August 25th, 2009
12:17 pm

Hey BS when is Governor Perdue going to Apologize for the Substandard Education in the State of Georgia ?

State SAT scores drop for 3rd year

But African-American students in Georgia beat the national average

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s scores on the SAT college entrance exam tumbled for a third straight year, falling an average of six points, it was announced Tuesday.


August 25th, 2009
12:44 pm

Clyde: I guess you should check the Constitution. I’m pretty sure that the military is responsible to all American citizens through the Executive Branch of the civilian government, as our duly elected representatives. That is assuming that you are asking as a member of the military.

Chris Broe

August 25th, 2009
12:51 pm

When is the Pope going to apologize for the Singing Nun? (and that stupid song).

Liberal Idiocracy

August 25th, 2009
12:59 pm

“I love how the libs take this post and turn it into a bush/cheney hate fest. ”

Shawny, what less do you expect from a bunch of failures who *put* a bunch of failures in Washington? Pelosi said she’d drain the swamp, but all she did was refill it with raw sewage.

I mean, let’s get real here. These incompetents artificiallly inflated auto sales figures, many of which went to those who probably should not have gotten a new car at tax payer assistance, which will make used cars more valuable on the market as well as used auto parts more expensive and possibly put some repair garages out of business due to NO parts being available down the road.

But who’s counting failures here. Just look at the wonderful government-run VA for competence and how the Liberal Idiocrats want to take over health care:

Published: August 24, 2009
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.
One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group says panicked veterans from Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming have contacted the group about the error.
Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, says the VA is blaming a coding error for the mistake.
Letters dated Aug. 12 were intended to notify veterans who have Lou Gehrig’s disease of disability benefits available to them.
Calls to the VA were not immediately returned Monday.
Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, is a rapidly progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.


August 25th, 2009
1:05 pm

Republican’s ……They Back a President who started a Made Up War, so Big Oil could finally get the Iraq Oil……….and then they fail to take care of the soldiers who went into Battle unprepared………. not to mention the Billions of American dollars wasted on the War, which has allot to do with our failing economy, and huge deficit.

Public Option or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
1:57 pm

The CIA investigation which has been set up as a whitewash to go after the underlings–the line officers, should immediately release the hidden OPR Report, and focus on the real criminals, Bush, Cheneey, Michael Vincent Hayden, McConnel, Yoo and Ninth Circuit Judge Bybee.

One delightful thing that has taken place is the Bybee’s are in social prison. Every last one of their friends has abandoned Judge Bybee and his wife and no longer speaks to them after their memos. He has a frosty milieu on the Ninth Circuit, even from the repubotards there.


Public Option or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
2:04 pm

IG Report in CIA Investigation


Stephen Bradbury, the unconfirmed by Congress Bush’s Acting OLC Chief who wrote many of the illegal torture memos should be prompty prosecuted.

The fact that some of these guys don’t understand that the investigation is a whitewash, and are now sweating and retaining attorneys is at least a start in their punishment–it’s a milieu I call pre-criminal charge morbidity.

Public Option or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
2:10 pm

These are the two cherry-picked documents that Dickhead Cheney wanted released. They are pure propaganda, and do nothing to shed light on the criminal behavior of Cheney, Yoo, Bradbury, and Bybee.


The documents also contradict themselves in several places.

From Marcy Wheeler:

As Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Gitanjali Gutierrez says of them:

“These are the documents Dick Cheney was so excited to see declassified, but they don’t make the case for torture, they only show that the CIA is able to tailor documents to justify its actions after the fact. The descent into torture has made the world a darker and more dangerous place for everyone.”

Chris Broe

August 25th, 2009
2:14 pm

Or when are white folks gonna apologize for dancing like that?

Silent Majority

August 25th, 2009
2:54 pm

So how did the war in Iraq contribute to the failed mortgage industries? You libs would rather take the money and give it away as freebies by the great divider, Obama.


August 25th, 2009
4:09 pm

Hey Silent Majority

Why don’t you tell us all about the Free Money given the recipients of the “Cost Plus Contracts” …….because of the Made up Iraq War ?

Those hundreds of Millions don’t matter ?


August 25th, 2009
5:48 pm

I served and I can find no justification by claiming I only followed orders. No more so, than the Germans were able to use that defence at Nuremberg. You do not have to follow those type of orders. It seems none of you have ever served in the military, much less in Viet Nam.

Curious Observer

August 25th, 2009
6:16 pm

It wasn’t merely that Calley ordered the killing. He killed an infant himself, throwing her into a ditch and then shooting her, while berating a sergeant for not having killed civilians in the first place.

Sorry, I don’t accept Calley’s apology. I served well before Vietnam, and I was instructed repeatedly about what a lawful order is. I was also instructed about the need not to follow an unlawful order. Those instructions didn’t change in the few years before the conflict in Vietnam broke out. Calley is a murderer, and his mealy-mouthed effort to apologize for it does not erase the sins he committed, nor does the possibility that his superiors were complicit in the murders. Calley disgraced every serviceman and veteran who rendered honorable military service. That Nixon would see fit to pardon him, in effect, after only three months of house arrest speaks volumes about the moral relativity that prevailed at the time.

Moonbat Patrol

August 25th, 2009
8:21 pm

Hey everyone, aren’t you so glad the Democrats railroaded a trillion dollar stimulus bill earlier this year to save jobs? Hey, Obama said if it wasn’t passed, unemployment would rise to 8%. And while America sinks under pure Democrat rule, the jackassed liberalss on this blog just mindlessly froth about Bush and Cheney. How disgustingly pathetic.

“By Roger Runningen and Brian Faler

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) — U.S. unemployment will surge to 10 percent this year and the budget deficit will be $1.5 trillion next year, both higher than previous Obama administration forecasts because of a recession that was deeper and longer than expected, White House budget chief Peter Orszag said. The Office of Management and Budget forecasts a weaker economic recovery than it saw in May as the gross domestic product shrinks 2.8 percent this year before expanding 2 percent next year, according to the administration’s mid-year economic review issued today. The Congressional Budget Office, in a separate assessment, forecast the economy will grow 2.8 percent next year. Both see the GDP expanding 3.8 percent in 2011.”

So America, how do you like your “change?”

“WASHINGTON – In a chilling forecast, the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion — more than the sum of all previous deficits since America’s founding. And it says by the next decade’s end the national debt will equal three-quarters of the entire U.S. economy.”

Yeah, you mindless liberals who have the nads to only whine about Bush deficits and, OR Reagan’s for that matter ignore the hell your dear leaders are putting on this nation, need to shut your dill holes the hell up. NOW. You incompetents on the kook left won’t be able to blame Bush for your failures forever. That’s guaranteed, liberal pink skirts.


August 25th, 2009
8:23 pm

Jim this is a well written piece.

For those of us who were around, Vietnam is a tough chapter in our life. And if I had been president, instead of Nixon, I would have reduced his sentence also (he did not get a pardon, just a reduced sentence).

And for those of you spewing venom in your AJC comments, I am glad that you understand. Yours is the exact mindframe Calley took into the village of My Lai. Hate for the “others”.

And yeah, Kerry was correct, there were other My Lais. Troops in combat either kill or they are killed. There have been My Lais in every armed conflict in the written history of the human race.

Curious Observer

August 25th, 2009
8:45 pm

I would have reduced his sentence also (he did not get a pardon, just a reduced sentence).

Reduced sentence? He stayed in home confinement for three months! He was never in a brig–not a day under actual guard for killing 200 people! Perhaps you will be willing to let Brian Nichols go now. After all, he was also under stress when he killed all those people–needed to escape, etc. You write as though Calley had served years in jail and was finally being given a break.

Government Control or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
9:32 pm

Curious Observer

Please tell me that you can tell the difference between Brain Nichols and a soldier, facing death at every turn. Please tell me that you are not that dumb.

Government Control or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
9:45 pm

Government control is what we are talking about. Public Option is as propaganda based as most of the other semantic games the democrats continue to play.

Some of us can actually support ourselves, buy our own health insurance and form opinions that are not dictated by the likes of Paul Klugman. I saw that little liberal princess on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. Man, what an imbecile. And what were they discussing? The crashing of Obama’s approval numbers.

Check out Bush’s approval ratings in august of his first year in office:


Obama is not even in the same league.

Government Control or No Bill

August 25th, 2009
9:48 pm

I heard a democratic pundit this morning on TV. He said that we have a choice. We an continue to pay an insurance company who takes a profit or we can use the government who makes no profit.

He was wearing a very nice suit I’m sure his taylor made a profit from that suit. So according to his and the dim outlook, the government should have sold him that suit at no profit. Yes, it would be of horrible quality and the taylor would be working for bureaucrats, deciding the color and fit of the suit, but it would be cheaper.

The computer that everyone is reading this on was made to make a profit for the manufacturer and the retail store. Let’s turn that over to the government. Yes, technology would stop. But we would all have a computer, bought with no profit going to one of those nasty old stock holders, so dims would be happy.

Cars? We could buy them for a fraction of what they cost now. They would all look like a Volga, have the dependability of a Yugo, but they would be “green cars” that would weigh nothing, be made from styrofoam and be rolling coffins for anyone driving on the same roads with 40 ton 18 wheelers, but they would be cheaper.

We are at a crossroad. We need to decide whether we want to be a socialist country or remain a capitalist country.

If advancements in medicine has gone as far as you want it to go, continue to vote for the party that is pushing a government takeover of the industry that makes a profit from saving lives and advancing medicine. American Drug Companies rarely make their latest products available to countries with socialized medicine. Those governments simply won’t and can’t pay the prices required to recoup the development and marketing of new drugs. Once we go socialist, who will pay for the advancements? Anybody out there got a few billion laying around they want to give away? The government will be even more broke then they are, so again, who will pay for the advancements?

I have seen the nasty public health clinics in England. I have seen the disposable hypodermic needles being sterilized and used again and again. I have seen the packed waiting rooms where most of the people will return home that night without treatment, after being turned away from the substandard nasty little clinics.

Capitalism works. It takes advantage of greed. Socialism doesn’t work. There’s still greed, but that greed only serves the purpose of the despots and criminals that hold selected office.

If our country can survive this onslaught of radical socialism, we will all have a decision to make in November of next year. Right now, Obama’s job approval ratings is a full 12 points lower than Bush’s was at this time in his administration. I know a lot of liberals will say : well of course, he didn’t do anything.

Well, duh? America wants to be left alone. Stay away from our children, Washington. Stay away from our jobs and stop raising taxes on our employers. They don’t pay those taxes, we do.

I pray every night that Obama fails. I pray that the radicalism that most Republicans knew about and the rest of the country is finding out about will not be successful. I pray that this is not the end of our country as we know it. But I have to be honest, with these Fascist in power, most of Americans are powerless to stop them. They want to change the rules so less of a majority can win on major issues. That proves that the law means nothing to them and many of their less intelligent followers.

Just like so many countries have done in the past, we have made a horrible mistake, based on thin promises of pie-in-the-sky, gov’ment goin’ to give me something, political campaigns.

Obama is toast. No one can recover from those kinds of approval failings. He has a guaranteed demographic, but that demographic is not going to be large enough to save him. He will be lucky to get through his first and only term without being impeached.


August 26th, 2009
1:16 am