Historical Dictionary



According to Vietnamese sources and direct witnesses, in early 1948, French Union ground and naval forces opened fire on and bombed the village of My Thuy located on the coast of Quang Tri province, killing a total of 562 villagers, including women and children. French Union paratroopers then went on a shooting rampage in the village while naval assault forces used heavy cannons to flatten much of what was left of the village. It remained largely abandoned until 1975. As at My Lai during the American War, the scale of the massacre left an indelible scar on the village and poses enormous existential problems to this day for the survivors and their families. After 1975, with the end of the second Indochina War, villagers decided to build a small temple and altar in memory of those who had perished in My Thuy. It also serves as a sacred place to perform rituals to soothe the spirits of those who had been killed but whose souls continue to roam the land. While apparently reluctant at first to support such religious activities, Vietnamese communist authorities have since realized the importance of patronizing such important local initiatives for the sake of their own political legitimacy. In 2001, the Ministry of Culture and Information officially recognized My Thuy village as a national monument and in 2005 the government invested 500 million dong to create a temple on the site where the massacre occurred. This temple allows those who lost loved ones to perform the needed religious rituals of ancestor worship. It also serves as a powerful local site of memory symbolizing the sorrow generated by the Indochina War. See also CAM LY, MASSACRE; CASUALTIES; CEMETERIES; EXPERIENCE OF WAR; HÉRAULT, MASSACRE; MARTYR; MYTH OF WAR; NECROPOLIS, FRÉJUS; TORTURE.