Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA, Urbana University, USA
Veterans Day Patriotism: Design, Production and Textual Chains
This paper examines evidence for the reproduction of militarized national identity through textual chains (Reisigl and Wodak, 2001) derived from multiple fields of action concerned with USA Veterans Day observations. Linked texts, originating in material produced by the US Department of Veterans Affairs and identified through linguistic tokens and themes, are appropriated in public ceremonies, and then re-appropriated in public school classroom activity. Veterans Day observations take place annually on November 11 in the United States, and serve a unique function in that they highlight, through community-produced ritualistic spectacle, the mass participation in, and support for, the US armed forces. The participants in these ceremonial events appropriate symbols, narratives, music, costume, and choreographed movement in the process of constructing a discourse of honor, sacrifice, heroism and defense of freedom attributed to military veterans. The linkage between the design and production (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2001) of these annual observance activities and a consequent understanding of the nature of patriotism is revealed through an analysis of the intertextual recurrence of language features observed in essays written by student participants asked to reflect on the “meaning and importance” of Veterans Day. In order to clarify the centrality of Veterans Day ceremonies for the enactment and reproduction of national identity, the paper initially provides a brief discussion of the origin of the celebration in the United States and its appearance at a time when the US had become a global military superpower in the context of the Cold War. Following this, the Veterans Day textual chain is traced, beginning with the US Department of Veterans Affairs design for Veterans Day community observations, including suggestions for activities, rituals and the mediational means (Scollon, 2001) for public performance. An examination of the actual community observance produced on the basis of the Veterans Administration design then traces the chain from government institution to community practice. Finally, an analysis of linguistic tokens and discursive themes embedded in the essays produced by students after participating in the community event provides evidence for the textual chain linking design and production of Veterans Day activities to the students’ national identity and understanding of American patriotism.
Kress, Gunther and Theo van Leeuwen. (2001) _Multimodal Discourse: The
Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication_. London: Arnold.
Reisigl, Martin and Ruth Wodak (2001) _Discourse and
Discrimination: Rhetorics of Racism and Antisemitism_. London:
Scollon, Ron. (2001) _Mediated Discourse: The Nexus of
Practice_. London: Routledge.
Wertsch, James. (1998) Mind as Action. New York: Oxford University
Session: Paper session
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15