The Resource "A Message for My Brother" : The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial as Rhetorical Situation
- "A Message for My Brother" : The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial as Rhetorical Situation
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- The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial as Rhetorical Situation
- Statement of responsibility
- A. Cheree Carlson and John E. Hocking
- An examination of letters left at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. between November, 1984 and April, 1986 revealed that the memorial serves as a rhetorical situation that urges its visitors to eloquence. The memorial is an excellent proving ground for situational theory because the interaction of site and perception is vital to the communication created by the rhetor/audience. The memorial consists of two walls of granite in a v-shape, inscribed with the names of those who died in the Vietnam War. Those who leave messages at the memorial treat it as a commemoration, a gravesite, a spiritual medium, and an apology to the dead. The motivation behind visitors' responses seems to be a search for healing; each rhetor is searching for some form of peace. Visitors are moved to eulogize the dead in ways that personalize the memorial. The messages left behind suggest that for many, visiting the memorial is cathartic. And for some, the messages and the memorial serve as a medium for speaking to the dead. Finally, visitors use their messages to apologize for being alive when a friend is dead. The responses arise from each visitor's subjective needs, but the memorial serves as a rhetorical situation transforming these internal responses into rhetoric. (SRT)
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