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Pedagogy in the Veteran’s Memorial

In Biesecker’s article, Remembering World War II: The Rhetoric and Politics of National Commemoration at the Turn of the 21st Century, he talks about the Women in Military Service War Memorial.  Not only does the memorial differ from others in the National Mall due to its recognition of women’s efforts during the wars, it also serves more as an educational piece than others.  He comments that the “assemblage of image-texts is strategically engineered for particular pedagogical effect” (p. 402).  This appears to be true also of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Rochester that I visited this week.

The memorial is in Highland Park.  From the parking lot, you follow a path called The Walk of Honor, which takes visitors past metal bollards commemorating the 280 men from the greater Rochester area that made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.  Along the way, you see The Soldier, pictured above, walking into a granite wall.  Further research reveals that the symbolism is intended to portray the living veteran still in contact with the veterans that have passed through the wall.  Engraved text on granite throughout the walk gives detail about the history and events leading up to and during the Vietnam War era.

Biesecker claims that the Women’s Memorial in DC “makes visible a national past” (p. 402).  I would argue that the Vietnam memorial achieves this as well.  Vietnam is a war that is often associated with the Forgotten War in Korea. Images and text work together to educate people and to help future generations understand the incredibly chaotic time in American history.  It shows the controversy, sadness, terror and loss that occurred as a result of this war.  The educational purpose of this memorial is so effective in conveying that we must not forget, but instead learn and heal. Overall, this memorial had a huge impact on me.  I thought that it was very well done and highly impactful.

Erica

I am a Communication and Media Technology student. My goal is to advance my understanding of communication, especially as it relates to marketing and organizations. I am quite happy working for my department at RIT and we'll see where the future takes me! I am passionate about graphic design and hope to have opportunities to build on these skills. My family consists of my husband (a soon-to-be brewmaster) and my silly labradoodle!

Comments

Casey
Reply

Erica- I also was moved by this particular memorial. Quite frankly, I have never seen anything like it. I was reading the Hess article and the unique nature of this memorial made me think of something he mentioned. Hess states that many memorials are created with agenda setting in mind (p. 824). As such, this use of pedagogy that you mention from Biesecker’s article goes hand in hand with the agenda setting function of this memorial. What’s so interesting is that you say that it is meant to illustrate a connection between those who have died and those who still serve. While I see the connection after you explained it, as a “novice” to this memorial, I would have guessed that the memorial more strongly represents the extreme struggle, hardship, and sheer horror that our soldiers were faced with during this war- thus the soldier is walking through a solid granite wall. Either way, if agenda setting was in fact used, I would make a similar argument as you so eloquently put it : this memorial is meant to educate and commemorate the lives lost while illustrating the struggle of the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Bryan
Reply

Do you think this instead represents the futility of Vietnam? That throughout the entire conflict we ran into walls, that is, could not advance any strong position? Likewise when the veterans returned, they struggled with advancing through society. I’m not sure that’s what was intended here in Highland because I’d presume them to be honorific, but there may be some sly commentary here. It certain remains sympathetic with the soldiers who fought and struggled, but not necessarily the politics behind the war.

Ivonna
Reply

This is an interesting monument that could definitely have many interpretations. When I saw the picture before reading your comment, I had a different meaning in my head. It kind of looks as if the soldier is going to his final terrible destiny. It might have an educational purpose, but it also has a hard impact on the viewer.

Abel
Reply

This memorial is truly impacting, it gained y attention instantly. The Veterans Memorial brings out curiosity in the viewer, you get the desire of understanding the meaning behind the piece. After reading the review you understand the meaning but that is not necessarily what it meant to you when seen the first time. To me the wall represented a mirror, since the reflection of the soldier is visible, representing that even after time passes, the memories still stay, these events will always be part of these veterans lives.

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