The re-narration of the Viet Nam war through the United States’ commemoration was without a doubt a political move that further “justify” the role of the United States as an interventionist. Espiritu fleshed out the mere reframing of Viet Nam war as a “learning from mistakes” storyline that makes you feel good inside as an American, this romanticized version of the war tries to make up for the failures of the United States as a militarized entity in Viet Nam. There were a lot of flowery narratives that pull your heartstrings, but within these feel-good stories are just diversions from the actual turn of events that happened in Viet Nam. It paints a picture of Vietnamese as people that are stronger than ever before with a growing relationship with the United States – a take on a narcissistic and unapologetic aura of the United States as a “teacher” of history, an interventionist that only strived for “world peace.” Marita Sturken took a jab at the United States denial tone and lack of acknowledgment of the Viet Nam war. She stated that “the way a nation remembers a war and constructs its history is directly related to how that nation further propagates war (…) the war, no matter the costs, was ultimately necessary, moral, and successful (Espiritu, p.119-120.)” It was this very statement that painted the United States as the “hero” that was obliged to protect peace around the world.
Maya Lin’s architectural design for the Viet Nam War Memorial received enormous criticism when the board in charge selected her design as the official layout for the memorial. Many living veterans brutally criticized the design as an insulting “black scar” for veterans. The irony of it all Maya Lin is an Asian American college student. Many were infuriated by the design especially veterans who were shamed by the community for participating in the most heinous war of all time. Veterans felt they were disrespected and were merely “outhustled” by the United States for convincing them to shoot and kill innocent people. In this contextualization, art becomes a controversy not only a storyteller but a monument of experience that not only commemorates those who died but also revisits a disturbing past. Can art or a monument be as equally as just as a historical narrative? By participating in the observation of art, are we justifying history and as well as the narratives of unrecognized of people?
ucrivinite. “Maya Lin.” Youtube. 4 June 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-ph97-XEC0
Yen Le Espiritu. Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refugees. 2014. p.119-120. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ucdavis/reader.action?docID=1711008