US Public Memory, Rhetoric, and the National Mall

A walk down the US National Mall reveals a lot about these United States of America. An iconic feature of the capital city, the public national park is bordered by monuments, memorials, museums, and government buildings that share stories of our nation’s history. US Public Memory, Rhetoric, and the National Mall, a new book from Lexington Press edited by Roger C. Aden, enters into this rhetorical situation to explore the ways that public memory is foregrounded, hidden, altered, and shared through the construction of the US National Mall.

Chapters in the book each address one monument, memorial, or museum and the stories it tells. John A. McArthur, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Furman University, explores the role of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the placemaking of US National Mall:

The unusual circumstance of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and yes, the National Mall overall, is that it is at once in the place it references and removed from that place. The National Mall is a place set apart for public, collective memory. But, the memories represented by the memorial and museums there were not really located there geographically. These memories come from across the nation and the world, from the streets of Birmingham to the grassy American Plains and the halls of Philadelphia to the elephant grass of Vietnam. Yet, they are all inscribed together on a single, walkable park in our nation’s capital.

In the chapter, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is examined as a microcosm and exemplar of the US National Mall from the perspetive of placemaking. To read more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the US National Mall, pick up a copy of the book on Amazon or your favorite local bookseller.

McArthur, J.A. (2018). Placemaking and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: An Exploration in User-experience Design. In R.C. Aden (Ed.). US Public Memory, Rhetoric, and the National Mall. New York: Lexington Press.

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