The Art of Soldiering: Soldier Art and Culture in Vietnam

artists rendering of a soldier standing in a field of grass with a helicopter in the background.

“Landing Zone” by John Wehrle, 1966. Center of Military History

How to register:
We offer two field trip scheduling options:

Audience: All audiences. Content appropriate for Grades 9-12.

Goal: Gain a greater appreciation for the commitments and sacrifices of Vietnam Soldiers.

Program Description:
Culture binds people together. Formed from common values, beliefs, experiences, languages and customs, culture creates a shared sense of purpose and collective identity among groups of people. It can be seen in writing, religion, entertainment, clothing, food and activities of different groups.

The U.S. Army has its own culture based on the Army values, esprit de corps and the mission. While each Soldier’s experience is unique to their service, culture binds them together. During the Vietnam War, Soldier culture was formed by the clothing Soldiers wore, the food they ate, the entertainment they consumed and their shared experiences.

Through an examination of artifacts, film, and primary sources, gain additional insight into the commitments and sacrifices of Vietnam-era Soldiers and explore how these items contributed to a Soldier culture unique to this conflict.

Objective: At the end of this lesson students, will be able to

  • Understand that culture exists between different groups.
  • Identify the ways that Soldiers created their own culture during Vietnam.
  • Recognize the challenges and commitments of Vietnam Soldiers.

Guiding Questions:
What does culture tell us about the Soldier experience?

Curriculum Connections

Common Core Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools

  • United States History: 1865 to the Present
    • USII.8 The student will apply social science skills to understand the economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world between the end of World War II and the present by
      • Examining the role of the United States in defending freedom during the Cold War, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, the collapse of communism in Europe, and the rise of new challenges.
  • Virginia Studies
    • VUS.12 The student will apply social science skills to understand the United States’ foreign policy during the Cold War era by
      • Analyzing the changing role of the United States in Asia, including Korea, Vietnam, and China
    • VUS. 13 The student will apply social science skills to understand the social, political, and cultural movements and changes in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century by
      • Evaluating and explaining changes that occurred in American culture.

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