The Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, Sep 1, 2011 - History - 553 pages
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"A study of American attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the Vietnam War, this book highlights the central role played by Vietnam veterans in shaping public memory of the war. Tracing the evolution of the image of the Vietnam veteran from alienated dissenter to traumatized victim to noble warrior, Patrick Hagopian describes how efforts to commemorate the war increasingly downplayed the political divisions it spawned in favor of a more unifying emphasis on honoring veterans and promoting national 'healing.' Veterans themselves contributed to this process by mobilizing in the early 1980s to create a national memorial dedicated to all Americans who fought and died in Southeast Asia. At the same time, President Ronald Reagan, after failing to convince the public that the war was a 'noble cause,' seized upon the idea of 'healing' as a way of reaffirming the value of military service and, by extension, countering the effects of the so-called Vietnam syndrome - the widespread fear that any assertive foreign policy initiative might result in 'another Vietnam.' It was with this aim in view, Hagopian reveals, that the Reagan administration worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial would be completed, despite strong conservative opposition to Maya Lin's bold design" -- from book jacket.
  

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Contents

A Noble Cause
1
Never Again The Vietnam Syndrome in American Foreign Policy
23
Something Rather Dark and Bloody Atrocities PostTraumatic Stress Disorder and the Pathologization of Vietnam Veterans
49
The Discourse of Healing and the Black Gash of Shame The Design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
79
A Dangerous Political Issue The War about Memory in 1982
111
Home to Americas Heart The National Salute to Vietnam Veterans
140
In Unity and with Resolve The Statue the Flag and Political Speech at the Memorial
166
No Shame or Stigma The Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program
202
Today We Are One People The Family Drama of Race and Gender in Commemorative Statuary of the Vietnam War
268
Our Offspring Children in Vietnam Veterans Memorials
309
The Wall Is for All of Us Patterns of Public Response to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
348
A Statute of Limitations What Healing from the War Might Mean
399
Abbreviations
433
Notes
435
Index
531
Back Cover
557

A Confrontation between Faiths The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial
231

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About the author (2011)

Patrick Hagopian is lecturer in American studies at LancastePatrick Hagopian is lecturer in American studies at Lancaster University. r University.

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