cover of book

Run For The Wall: Remembering Vietnam on a Motorcycle Pilgrimage
by Raymond J. Michalowski and Jill Dubisch
Rutgers University Press, 2001
eISBN: 978-0-8135-5840-0 | Paper: 978-0-8135-2928-8 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-2927-1
Library of Congress Classification DS559.83.W18M53 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 303.66


Every May, for more than a decade, an ever-increasing number of motorcyclists have made the “Run for the Wall,” a cross-country journey from Southern California to the “Wall,” the Vietnam war memorial in Washington, D.C. While the journey’s avowed purpose is political — to increase public awareness about those who remain either prisoners of war or missing in action in Southeast Asia — it also serves as a healing pilgrimage for its participants and as a “welcome-home” ritual many veterans feel they never received.

Run for the Wall is a highly readable ethnographic account of this remarkable American ritual. The authors, themselves motorcyclists as well as Run participants, demonstrate that the event is a form of secular pilgrimage. Here key concepts in American culture— “freedom,” and “brotherhood,” for example—are constructed and deployed in a variety of rituals and symbols to enable participants to come to terms with the consequences of the Vietnam war. While the focus is the journey itself, the book also explores other themes related to American culture and history, including the nature of community, the Vietnam war, and the creation of American secular ritual.

In moving, first-hand accounts, the book tells how participation in the POW-MIA social movement helps individuals find personal and collective meaning in America’s longest and most divisive conflict. Above all, this is a story of a uniquely American form of political action, ritual, pilgrimage, and the social construction of memory.

See other books on: Michalowski, Raymond J. | Motorcycles | Motorcycling | Social interaction | Wall
See other titles from Rutgers University Press
Nearby on shelf for History of Asia / Southeast Asia / French Indochina: