This discussion addresses the following outcome:
Examine the ways in which the memory of the Vietnam War has been shaped by official rhetoric and popular culture since the end of the war (CO#1)
Given that the Vietnam War was one conflict within the scope of a broader one (the Cold War), US policymakers from Kennedy to Ford sought to “manage” the image of the conflict. They did this by presenting, to the American people and the world, the war in terms that were commensurate with present objectives. However, since the end of the war, the “official rhetoric” (namely that coming from the President of the United States) has evolved over time. Some historians have argued that the memory of the Vietnam War is so relevant to contemporary aims (whatever they have been through the years) that US officials have worked hard to continue to “manage” the memory of the war. In addition, other forces have helped to shape the memory of the Vietnam War. These forces include popular culture such as films, books, and television, which have all impacted how Americans, as well as others, think of the war. Of course, these influences on the collective memory of Vietnam are significant to the point that the memory of Vietnam has often been used both to support and criticize various policy options in the years since the Vietnam War.
For this activity, you will read the article “Contested Memory: The Vietnam War and American Society, 1975-2001
,” [PDF File size, 254 KB] as well as the final chapter of the Herring text. As you read these selections, consider the following questions in a post of at least 250 words:
How were the ways in which Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton depicted the Vietnam War similar? How were they different?
In your estimation, how has the “official rhetoric” related to the Vietnam War served contemporary purposes for various presidents?
How has popular culture impacted collective memory of the Vietnam War?
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