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|US Veteran BIlly Kelly: "I am sorry I am not able to be with you in Son My this year. But you can be certain that my thoughts and prayers will be with you. I will always remember and never forget."|
On the morning of March 16, at Son My War remnant area, Tinh Khe commune, Quang Ngai city, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Ngai province held a 52-year memorial incense-burning ceremony to commemorate the disaster of Son My people. (March 16, 1968 to March 16, 2020).
On this day 52 years ago, in the My Lai village area of Son My village, US Army units massacred 504 innocent civilians. Among whom were 182 women (17 pregnant), 173 children, 60 elderly and 89 middle-aged people; 247 houses were destroyed, thousands of cattle and poultry were killed, and food crops were completely destroyed. The massacre shocked the world.
|504 roses and a confession on the card by US veteran Billy Kelly sent to Son My massacre victims this year|
At the memorial, delegates and victims who survived the massacre presented incense in front of the Son My monument and spent a minute of silence in the ringing sound of bells to pray for the souls of 504 Son My victims and for a peaceful world.
After more than half a century, many American veterans have returned to this place in regret of facing the truth and themselves. The people of Son My have overcome great pain and loss to open their arms for forgiveing and sincere welcome.
For more than two decades, on this occasion, US veteran Billy Kelly has been here, offering 504 roses to commemorate the innocent victims.
In the years of 1968-1969 this American veteran fought in Duc Pho (Quang Ngai), more than 80 km from Son My. After the massacre happened, he was shocked and obsessed throughout life. During the following years, Billy Kelly continued visiting Son My, working to help the local people heal the pain. He also expressed his desire that his ashes would be scattered around the ruins after he died.
|Mr. Billy Kelly in Son My on March 16, 2016|
This year, for health reasons and the COVID-19 pandemic, Billy Kelly sent 504 roses to 504 Son My victims, along with the confession on a postcard: “I am sorry I am not able to be with you in Son My this year. But you can be certain that my thoughts and prayers will be with you. I will always remember and never forget".
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