Originally published 05/16/2013
Penny Lewis is an assistant professor of labor studies at the Joseph P. Murphy Institute for Work Education and Labor Studies in the School of Professional Studies at the City University of New York. This essay is adapted from her new book Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory, published by Cornell University Press.Decades after its conclusion, the U.S. war in Vietnam remains an unsettled part of our collective memory. Members of the military, veterans, scholars, journalists, and artists continue to revisit and reinterpret the war, assessing its historical significance while seeking meaning for wars fought today. Despite the efforts of our political elites to put the ghosts of Vietnam to rest, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have prolonged these discussions. Books and articles with titles like "Is Afghanistan Another Vietnam?" abound. The economic and political imperatives that drive U.S. foreign policy, the appropriate use of force, the domestic costs of war, the treatment and trauma of veterans, whether today's wars are "winnable" or "worth it"—appropriate or not, those are some of the many points of comparison and concern.
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