This reading is mostly focused on American memorials of war, from the Revolution to Vietnam (mostly Vietnam), as well as memorials of other countries. I found this part of the conclusion very interesting, especially that German memorials of WWI maintained a view that helped precipitate the next world war.
Veterans of Korea didn’t get much recognition, as they were soldiers of a so-called “forgotten war.” At first, memorials to Korea vets were actually combined with WWII vets, which I found somewhat unfair to both groups. Vietnam, America’s first defeat in a war, was much the opposite of Korea in that it couldn’t be erased from the public’s mind. This led to Vietnam memorials being built relatively quickly in comparison to other wars, as well as a different type of memorial. Memorials of the past emphasized the valor and heroism of war, but those of Vietnam were dedicated to expressing the pain and loss caused by war, as well as a level of equality in the representation of women and minorities.
There was also an issue over the idea of a Smithsonian run military museum. One person proposed something described as a theme park, though I don’t think that was necessarily the correct interpretation. Critics accused that the museum would glorify war. I believe war was already and still is glorified (I remember often playing war when I was younger) and a museum wouldn’t have made a difference. In fact, I think if it was done right it could educate the American public about war and its consequences and make us less inclined to be war-crazed mongrels. I think recreations of battlefields, more extensive than reenactments, could connect us to the past in ways normal museums are sometimes unable to do. I found the exhibit on America’s wars in Washington D.C.’s American History Museum to be one of the best parts of the museum, and I wouldn’t mind if it was expanded on.