Mexican Americans and the Viet Nam War

TitleMexican Americans and the Viet Nam War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsMariscal, George
EditorYoung, Marilyn B., and Robert Buzzanco
Book TitleA Companion to the Vietnam War
CityMalden, MA

Mexican Americans have served in the US armed forces in disproportionate numbers. One factor that complicates the service of this community is the thorny issue of assimilation, its connection to patriotism and to the promise of full citizenship in the nation. For those groups who are already marked as not fully “American,” the desire to “fit in” and to not call attention to one’s self by refusing to practice conventional behavior is especially strong. The drive to assimilate through military service is exacerbated by one of the most pernicious inheritances from Mexican culture—warrior patriotism. The idea that masculine behavior of necessity must include a readiness to die for “la patria” is powerful in Mexican nationalist ideology. When transferred to the Chicano context, it is especially dangerous since the Mexican male’s rhetorical claim that he is willing to die anytime, anywhere becomes a deadly reality once it is linked to US imperialist projects.

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