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Carried to the Wall Haas

The nature of Kristin Ann Hass’ Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a unique perspective when it comes to the changing authority of public monuments and their audiences. According to the author, the post-Vietnam War era has seen a change in the way audiences read memorials. Hass argues that they do so now with a more active and critical view. Making comparisons with the Civil War, Hass argues that the Vietnam was challenged the very nature of American patriotism and the relationship between the individual and the state. As Rachel Decker of The Michigan Daily noted upon the publication of Carried to the Wall, the memorial did not just symbolize the war and its losses but also redefined American patriotism, “'The Vietnam war shattered what it meant to be a patriotic American,’ Hass said. So the wall, completed in 1982, was supposed to be a memorial for the veterans ‘to create a community of grief that they hadn’t had” (1).

In a sense, the Hass’ book is a dissertation-like study of why individuals leave the many and diverse objects at the base of the memorial in Washington, D.C. Using Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia, Hass argues that these varied items left at the base of the monument represent an interactive exchange between the state and individuals, symbolizing an ongoing negotiation between the state and the public with respect to patriotism, nationalism, and memorials. Hass’ contention is that the memorial allowed veterans and their loved ones to create a community of meaning that was fragmented and left adrift in the aftermath of the controversial war. Because of this, Hass’ main argument is that it was nearly impossible to negotiate a monument that would represent a singular voice or perspective with respect to the unpopular war. As Hass (1) maintains:

After the Vietnam War, the instability of the social position of the soldier marked a national cri...

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Carried to the Wall Haas. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:33, May 24, 2020, from