Travelling Memories: Revisiting the Past in Larry Heinemann’s Black Virgin Mountain
The Vietnam War was a period of immense upheaval and trauma for American troops. In recognition of the urgent need for psychological support and care for veterans, a therapy culture and narratives of healing began to take shape, acknowledging the psychological potential of revisiting sites of trauma. While there are numerous cases of war veterans returning to Vietnam in search of closure, very few studies have delved into the specific ways in which mobility and movement influence the reconstruction of war memories and their impact on veterans’ healing. This paper aims to examine how the physical act of returning to a place of trauma can be a powerful form of remembrance and healing, potentially leading to a greater understanding of the complex and interconnected nature of trauma and memory. Through a close reading of Larry Heinemann’s memoir Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam (2005), this paper seeks to uncover the power and potential of physical movement to manifest and process traumatic memories, and the potential risks involved. Understanding how war memories continue to manifest long after the war has ended is crucial for understanding the healing process and the urgent needs of veterans. It highlights the significance of mobility and movement as active vehicles of remembrance, allowing veterans to navigate the traumas of the past and find closure.