Reading Vietnam

ALL sections, please read and annotate the poems in the packet provided in class (pdf also below) by Monday 6/5. Please remember, no late work will be accepted, and reassessment is not an option. More important, though, I will be sharing your work with Professor McCloud.

Please be prepared to spend about 60 minutes total broken up over several days on this work before Monday 6/5.


PDF of poetry packet: Vietnam Poetry by Professor Bill McCloud


Reactions and Responses – Please be sure to respond and react to the poems as you read them. You can just make quick annotations, notes, and bullet points; you don’t have to write in complete sentences or anything like that! You can ask yourself questions like…

  • What does the poem make you think or feel?
  • How does the poem relate to what we’ve learned about in American Studies?
  • How do the poems relate to one another?
  • What do you like or find interesting about the poem? What do you dislike about it?
  • What surprised you, confused you, made you stop and think, made you see from a different perspective?

Questions – As you read the poems, be sure to jot down any questions that come to mind so that we can ask them on Monday!

  • What questions do you have for the poet, Professor Bill McCloud?



Notice and Note Signposts – If you happen to notice a signpost, feel free to note it!

  • Contrasts & Contradictions: Why is the character doing that?
  • Aha Moment: How might this change things?
  • Tough Questions: What does this question make ME wonder about?
  • Words of the Wiser: What’s the life lesson and how might it affect the character?
  • Again & Again: Why does this keep happening or coming up?
  • Memory Moment: Why might this memory be important?

Word Gaps – You might need to look up some words or abbreviations.

  • Look up words or abbreviations you don’t know.

Memorial Day Reading



This week and weekend as we celebrate Memorial Day and complete our March to the Memorials service learning project, please take the time to read one or more of these important stories of the Vietnam War Era. You can find more context for each of these stories here.

On the creation of the “The Wall,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall —

Jan Scruggs and Joel L. Swerdlow’s To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial 

adapted by Swerdlow into an article for Syracuse University Magazine in 1985

On one of the worst ambushes of American troops in the war —

Death in the Ia Drang Valley, November 13-18, 1965

by Private 1st Class Jack P. Smith, published in The Saturday Evening Post on January 28, 1967

Note: Jack P. Smith is NOT the USM alumnus whose name appears on The Wall.

On protesting the Vietnam War —

Born on the Fourth of July 

by Ron Kovic

Reading at least one of the above is required. Here is another optional reading you may want to check out… Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? from the National Museum of American History.

Also check out’s page on Memorial Day.