Gary Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars is set in 1967 against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. American involvement in the Vietnam War started in 1955, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent military aid to South Vietnam to fend off attacks from North Vietnam. In 1963, President Kennedy spoke of pulling out, but after Kennedy's assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson began escalating the war in 1964, upon taking over the Oval Office ("Vietnam," John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum). The war is one of the bloodiest in history and the first war the United States lost. The setting of the destructiveness of the war and of people's need to prevail despite such destruction parallels a conflict Holling faces with his father.
Mr. Hoodhood parallels American sentiments toward the war in the 1960s in several ways. America had entered the war with a history of being undefeated, arrogantly believing the war would be a very speedy victory for the Americans. They had entered with the purpose of defeating the newly established communist North Vietnamese government, encroaching upon the developing democratic South Vietnamese government, with the hope of containing the spread of communism. Since America in the 1960s saw itself as a technological superpower and saw the Vietnamese, who lived in grass huts, as a backwards society, the Americans couldn't believe the war would be anything less than a swift victory. They were astonished to see how resourceful the Viet Cong of South Vietnam truly was. As the war continued, it escalated until Lyndon B. Johnson was conducting massive bombings that led to 1,000 civilian casualties per week (O'Malley, M., "The Vietnam War and the Tragedy of Containment," George Mason University). The war led the the deaths of a total of 58,156 American troops, or as Heather states in the story: "Two hundred soldiers die every week" ("January"). While the war first seemed like a perfect tactic to the arrogant Americans, the reality is that the war was a devastating defeat.
Mr. Hoodhood displays similar arrogance in his own life. He believes himself to be perfect, having the "Perfect House," the perfect successful job, and the perfect reputation. Due to his success and reputation, he is elected the Chamber of Commerce Businessman of 1967 and is obsessed with maintaining his status. In his obsession with his reputation and job, he ignores his children's needs by breaking promises to Holling and denying Heather a college education. As a result, his children and wife grow to dislike and distance themselves from him, showing readers that, though Mr. Hoodhood arrogantly believes his life is perfect, his belief is actually destroying his home life, just as the arrogant behavior of the Americans during the Vietnam War destroyed many lives.
Against this backdrop of the war and of his father behaving in an arrogant and self-serving manner, Holling learns to stand up to his father.