‘We cast these medals away as symbols of shame, dishonor, and inhumanity’: Veteran Protest and the Rejection of Cold War Patriotism
Soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War II were treated as heroes and their sacrifice was celebrated long after their homecoming. By contrast, Vietnam veterans were not similarly welcomed home as champions of democracy. Indeed, some veterans felt there was not any honour in their participation in Vietnam. In 1967, a small group of likeminded veterans – simultaneously upset about the treatment of Vietnam veterans when they returned home and the particularly violent nature of the war – founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
‘Still being sent to Nam to protect America’s myths’: Anti-war Soldiering and the Challenge to Cold War Patriotism
A 1971 Army study suggests that over 50% of active duty soldiers engaged in some form of dissent during their service. Rejecting popular Cold War patriotic mythology, these activist soldiers deemed the military an authoritarian institution and a tool of oppression wrought by an imperialistic America. In doing so, they challenged the official Cold War depiction of the United States as the protector of global democratic ideals against an evil, totalitarian communist ideology.