The remembered war: the Korean war in American culture, 1953-1995

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After three years of bitter fighting, the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953. It profoundly shaped and directed American Cold War policy for the next four decades. Korea’s place in American culture and memory, however, has seemingly been less profound. This dissertation reassesses the war’s legacy from the armistice in 1953 through the construction of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in 1995. It argues that representations of the war have shifted over time in response to contemporary social concerns, emphasizing different aspects of the war that resonated with Americans at the time. Simultaneously, the image of Korea as the Forgotten War has also shaped the war’s meaning. Such a label, ironically, has had an important impact on how it has been remembered. Finally, the memory of Korea has been unable to escape the long shadows cast by other conflicts of the twentieth century, especially World War II and Vietnam. These wars have simultaneously limited and broadened the Korean War’s legacy. Taking these factors into consideration, this dissertation reassesses the Korean War’s place in American culture by tracing the various ways it has been remembered and represented.

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American history