Thesis Title

The Brass Bands Played Too Late: Vietnam Veterans Discuss War, Homecoming, and Life After Vietnam


Tonja R. Cox

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Martha Gholson


In The Brass Bands Played Too Late, veterans tell their own stories about what happened when they came home from the Vietnam War. Many of the stories are being told for the first time--not even their families have heard them. Some of the veterans share not only stories of their humiliating return, but the highlights of their honorable service as well, in hopes that Americans who saw them as degenerates, and killers, might understand the experiences the veterans dealt with on a day to day basis, and how difficult it was for them to put their lives back together after witnessing the horrors of war. This thesis reveals the human side of the Vietnam veterans, as opposed to the public's view of them as killing machines without feelings. They are individuals, with the same hopes and fears as every other American citizen. The only difference is that these individuals laid their lives on the line for those who stayed behind, and were punished for it. There are hundreds of books about Vietnam and veterans, but few if any allow the veterans to share their views of the American public and the way it treated the veterans when they came home. This work is unique in that it combines the homecoming stories of many veterans in one volume, and includes stories of women who served in Vietnam as well. The following collection of memoirs offers the chance to learn what themes and daily experiences most require expression by Vietnam veterans. They offer a lens through which the past may be viewed and remembered as a result of the reader's personal connection.


Vietnam, narratives, veterans, war, personal experience, memoir

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Tonja R. Cox