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