Browse Exhibits (6 total)

The Promise of Camelot: The Evolving Rhetoric of John F. Kennedy's Speeches

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Over the course of John F. Kennedy's tragically shortened Presidential term, the rhetorical language he used in speeches was continuously in flux, particularly in how he exemplified the Soviet Union during the height of Cold War tensions, and in how he clarified American ideals and doctrine both domestically and internationally.

Kennedy's most famous speeches are filled with repetition, and he makes notable use of chiasmus - the utilization of dual phrasing with reversed structure - to create some of his most lasting phrases. But what truly separated Kennedy from the other Cold War presidents was his optimism, and his constant invocations of a peaceful future for all mankind.

Save the Children: Subtext and Propaganda in Cold War Era Educational Films

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In the early years of the Cold War, thousands of films were made to be distributed through American classrooms. These films were created with the intention of educating children on topics ranging from how to act during a nuclear attack to how to make friends in school. The following exhibit looks at the history of these films, and how they were used as a tool by the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA).

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Take Shelter: Nuclear Anxieties, the Family Unit, and Civil Defense during the Cold War

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The fallout shelter remains one of the most iconic symbols of the Cold War. In the fifties and sixties, civil defense became a part of the national conversation regarding the atomic bomb. A debate soon emerged among proponents of personal family shelters that ensured the safety of loved ones, and advocates for mass community shelters that provided a more ethical, inclusive solution. This exhibit illustrates the tensions between the private and the public, stable family homes and uncertain futures, reassuring narratives and uncomfortable truths- while American culture at the time was characterized by conformity and consensus, the possibilty of nuclear war threatened to shatter the ideals Americans had modeled their lives upon in the postwar period.

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"Not My Son, Not Your Son, Not Their Sons": Protesting the Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War was easily one of the most controversial episodes of American military involvement in the country’s history. The body count of American G.I.’s piling up in a mysterious, far away land led hundreds of thousands of American citizens to question the foreign policies of their government, many for the first time. Throughout the early years of the Cold War, American public opinion on the perceived evils of Communism reached a fever pitch. However, as more and more young Americans were deployed to the jungles of Vietnam, the cost of ridding the world of the tyranny of Communism seemed to be too rich for American blood. Still, despite heavy criticism and protest from all sectors of public opinion, American involvement in Vietnam persisted throughout the mid 1960s and early 1970s. It is certain that although this was not the only period armed conflict to feature so much negative opinion from the home front, the modern ways in which information regarding the war was spread throughout the world, as well as the global scope of the conflict make for one of the most exhilarating war and anti-war movements ever seen. In this short exhibit, I hope to highlight some of the bravest and most outspoken members, as well as important events that led the way towards the growth of the anti-war movement

Special Forces in Vietnam

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American failure in the Vietnam War was a direct result of the Cold War; the American military had spent their time after World War Two preparing for what seemed to be an assuredly impending war with the Soviet Union, and it was this preparation that caused their military failures in the war against Vietnamese communists. After bombing Japan and ending World War Two, the Cold War began, and with tensions rising between the two global powers, neither one of them could bear to lose a single day of military preparation. The Soviet Union and United States dauntingly leered at each other across the Atlantic, preparing their military forces to be ready at a moment’s notice to begin a global war should the other nation make a wrong turn. Ironically, it was this military preparedness that caused the United States so much trouble in Vietnam. The American military was built to face off with a large, diverse military complete with hundreds of thousands of personnel armed and equipped with state of the art artillery, infantry, aviation, and nuclear bombs. Instead, they were met by guerillas. The American military had built itself into a great sledgehammer, ready to smash into the Soviets, but this sledgehammer did not meet with the mighty Soviet force it was made to combat. Instead, with the quick moving and stealthy Vietnamese, the American military was seemingly trying to use their sledgehammer to crush a mosquito.

The traditional tactics of the United States Military were greatly ineffective against the Vietcong insurgents, but this lead to some of the most profound military developments ever seen among the American Special Forces. In order to combat the Vietcong, President Kennedy created the now well-known and universally respected Army Green Berets and the Navy SEALs.

 

On the Other Side of the DMZ

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The Vietnam War was one of the most prominent proxy wars between the Socialist and Capitalist camps during the Cold War. In some aspects, this war was unusual. The heavy involvement of mass media and the unprecedented domestic opposition, along with the surprising conclusion of the war made it a topic of interest for historians. While the US side of involvement was extensively documented, the other side was less known in the western historiography. This exhibit provides some perspective from the other side of the DMZ, from North Vietnam

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