Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Andrew Wiest

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Heather Stur

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Andrew Haley

Committee Member 3 School



The current historiography on the memory of the Vietnam War has primarily looked at how the collective memory of the war has been constructed through various factors. Scholars such as Jerry Lembcke, Patrick Hagopian, and Marita Sturken tend to examine monuments, film, and oral histories to establish a basis for how the memory of the Vietnam War was constructed and how these legacies from the war shaped the U.S. as a society going forward. Recently, scholars have begun looking more at the return trips of veterans to Vietnam as a source for understanding how veterans remembered their service.

By engaging with these scholars, this thesis argues that some veterans who returned to Vietnam as tourists found validation for their military service. To prove this argument, this thesis examines a variety of veteran narratives ranging from memoirs, news articles, and interviews of veterans who have returned to Vietnam. By encountering a modernizing Vietnam and experiencing the friendliness of the Vietnamese people, these veterans received validation for their service that they remember not receiving from the American public when they returned from the war. By finding validation, these veterans construct a narrative that promotes the country as a welcoming place for veterans where they can find closure and healing and encourages other veterans to return to Vietnam. Those veterans who have returned to Vietnam and found validation for their military service reinterpret their place within the collective memory of the war.