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Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall

Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall

Kristin Ann Hass
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall
    Book Description:

    For the city's first two hundred years, the story told at Washington DC's symbolic center, the National Mall, was about triumphant American leaders. Since 1982, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated, the narrative has shifted to emphasize the memory of American wars. In the last thirty years, five significant war memorials have been built on, or very nearly on, the Mall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During WWII, and the National World War II Memorial have not only transformed the physical space of the Mall but have also dramatically rewritten ideas about U.S. nationalism expressed there. InSacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall, Kristin Ann Hass examines this war memorial boom, the debates about war and race and gender and patriotism that shaped the memorials, and the new narratives about the nature of American citizenship that they spawned.Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mallexplores the meanings we have made in exchange for the lives of our soldiers and asks if we have made good on our enormous responsibility to them.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95475-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    IN 1943 THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT asked librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish to write a statement to help sell war bonds.¹ This is from the poem he wrote. It is just a few lines, but it evokes a pact between the soldier and the nation in no uncertain terms: “We leave you our deaths; give them their meaning.” The life of the soldier is traded for a memory that makes a shared meaning of the death. MacLeish understood the work of remembering soldiers for what it is—grave and consequential. The endless parade of visitors to the war memorials on the...

  6. ONE Forgetting the Remembered War at the Korean War Veterans Memorial
    (pp. 21-58)

    THE KOREAN WAR VETERANS MEMORIAL was dedicated in July 1995, forty-two years after a tense stalemate was reached in Korea, twenty-two years into the period of the all-volunteer military in the United States, twenty years after the fall of Saigon, and just a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. It is the first of many memorials built on the Mall in response to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It began with a fairly straightforward, not unreasonable desire for acknowledgements of service in the Korean War. However, in a long, fraught process...

  7. TWO Legitimating the National Family with the Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial
    (pp. 59-95)

    THE STORY OF THE BLACK Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial recounts a failed attempt to use the revival of the status of the sacrificing soldier to redraw primary boundaries of national inclusion. The story of the memorial reveals the tenacity with which the Daughters of the American Revolution, who are central to this story, fought to maintain these boundaries, and the less tenacious but still successful maintenance of these boundaries by the various individuals and federal agencies involved in the memorial process. It also reveals the limits of the revival of the sacrificing soldier. Finally, it reveals how an obvious but,...

  8. THREE The Nearly Invisible Women in Military Service for America Memorial
    (pp. 96-121)

    THE STORY OF THE WOMEN in Military Service for America Memorial is about the fight to recognize the service of women in the U.S. military. It is also the maddening saga of the practically invisible rendered nearly invisible; it tells of an effort to carve out a place in the public imagination, and on the National Mall, to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions that women have made to the U.S. military. It recounts the successes and failures of an attempt to move women, to paraphrase Anne McClintock, beyond the role of “symbolic bearers of the national,” and to represent them...

  9. FOUR Impossible Soldiers and the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism during World War II
    (pp. 122-151)

    THE NATIONAL JAPANESE AMERICAN Memorial to Patriotism during World War II sits on a triangular plot on the Capitol grounds, between the Capitol and Union Station, at the far eastern edge of the axis linking Arlington National Cemetery to the Capitol. It has five principal elements: a bronze sculpture of two cranes wrapped in barbed wire, a plaza lined with panels inscribed with the names of the internment camps and the numbers held there, a pool of water with rock islands, a list of the names of the more than eight hundred Japanese American soldiers killed in the war, and...

    (pp. 152-195)

    GRADUALLY DESCENDING into the National World War II Memorial plaza, the visitor is surrounded by triumphal arches and sharp-taloned eagles bearing ribboned wreaths. Making his or her way around the high-spouting fountains of the reborn Rainbow Pool and past the fifty-six festooned pillars, the visitor comes to a curvilinear wall holding a field of 4,048 gold stars. Facing the wall—a physical dead end—the visitor is turned toward the Lincoln Memorial but unable to see it. Below the wall is a pool of still water with a raised coping inscribed with the words “Here We Mark the Price of...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 196-198)

    THIS STORY STARTS with Archibald MacLeish’s poem “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak” to evoke the enormous responsibility owed by the living to the war dead. When MacLeish writes, “We give you deaths, give them their meaning,” he calls for a memory of war that not only honors the sacrifices soldiers make for the nation but repays the soldier with a meaning made. The story ends with a rejection of MacLeish’s poem by the advocates for the National World War II Memorial because it is at odds with the celebratory spirit of the memorial they wanted to build. They...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 199-228)
    (pp. 229-242)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 243-262)