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Flagship Memorial: An Analysis of Themes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1982-2007

Keywords: Vietnam Veterans Memorial , content analysis , Memory , Memoralization , politics , healing , New York Times , Washington Post

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This paper seeks to extend the analysis of Wagner-Pacifici and Schwartz’s (1991) landmark piece, “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past”, by sixteen years in order to understand how memory has been both created and sustained at the memorial from 1982-2007. A content analysis of 791 articles from the New York Times and Washington Post revealed five themes for analysis: 1) healing, 2) politics, 3) conflict over additional elements, 4) religion, and 5) offerings. Of these themes, politics was significant. However, while the analysis indicates the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a politically charged terrain; grassroots efforts dominate narratives of public opinion, changes to the site and discussions of memory.


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