Executive Summary

With staunch public resistance that tainted the image of Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic efforts for a Great Society, the Vietnam war represented an about-face for the American perception of war and its role in global affairs. In World War II, the civilian populace rallied behind its soldiers’ efforts abroad, picking up jobs in factories, coping with rationing, restricted consumer spending, and, most notably, giving the soldiers a hero’s welcome in their return to the home front. In a stark contrast, the American population adamantly rejected the Vietnam war as the 60’s progressed, staging vocal protests against what was perceived as a superfluous involvement in a theater far away. With its lofty idealistic platform yet complete repudiation by the public, the Vietnam War demonstrated that “The times, they are a-changing” as US Citizens limited the extents to which government could go to block the spread of Communism.

This unit views the United States’ conflict in Vietnam through a medium that had become increasingly omnipresent in the lives of both civilians and soldiers. Overseas, soldiers used music as a bonding experience for their mutual suffering in harrowing conditions in a remote and unfamiliar land. Songs like The Animal’s We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze, and The Doors The End captured soldier’s desperation and sense of hopelessness. Back at home, the vocal resistance rallied around songs like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son, Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, and John Lennon’s Imagine. Songs such as these, in conjunction with media broadcasts of the war, inflamed public sentiment and prompted public action against the government’s intervention abroad. Although the different situations of the citizen and soldier elicited different responses to the war, both groups began to use music as a medium of expression about their complex positions on the Vietnam war.

Group Members: Akram Sobhy, Chen Jia, Carrie West, Jack Roberts, Kelly Reese, Meagan Martin, Meghan Wingert, Peter Shmorhun, Taylor Kehs, Brandon von Kannewurff

 

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