Beamish, T., Molotch, H., & Flacks, R. (1995). Who supports the Troops? Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the making of collective memory. Social Problems, 42(3), 344-360.

During the Gulf War, U.S. media portrayed Vietnam-era protesters as having treated American soldiers shamefully during the Vietnam War. Even Gulf War protesters lent credence to this historical interpretation. By "supporting the troops", dissenters distanced themselves from their counterparts during the Vietnam era and its "remembered" anti-troop sentiments. But after analysis of Vietnam era media, we find that the media of the time--consistent with most subsequent published accounts--did not report the movement as "anti-troop." Although policymakers frequently attempted to imply that protesters were anti-troop, we find virtually no instances of protesters themselves being reported as targeting the troops. Our findings show that the memory of protester-troop antagonism is not so much the product of conflict between these two groups, but rather of a selectively remembered and edited past. Just as it hamstrung the anti-war movement during the Gulf War, the current recollection may endure as part of the conditions facing opponents of future military actions.

Author's email address