Exile on the Commercial Strip: Vietnam War Memorials in Little Saigon and the Politics of Commemoration
(first graph, need abstract) In 1999 Consul General Phong Xuan Nguyen denounced the creation of a Vietnam War me- morial in Orange County, California. Although dozens of memorials have been constructed since the dedication of the national Vietnam Vet- erans Memorial in 1982, the memorial in West- minster caused particular offense to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam because of its depiction of a South Vietnamese soldier. In a letter to Mayor Frank Fry, Nguyen argued that the project would “dredge up a bitter past . . . that both sides have decided to leave behind.”1 In a bid to take control from the Vietnamese refugees funding the proj- ect, he suggested replacing the proposed South Vietnamese soldier with a North Vietnamese, thereby transforming the project into a monu- ment to reconciliation between the two nations. In an interview published in the Orange County Register, Nguyen argued, “We should have a statue that represents our relationship today.”2 At stake was not only the communist country’s re- cently acquired standing with the United States but also its tenuous relationship with Vietnam- ese refugees.
Erica S. Allen-Kim. (2014). Exile on the Commercial Strip: Vietnam War Memorials in Little Saigon and the Politics of Commemoration. Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, 21(2), 31-56. doi:10.5749/buildland.21.2.0031