Honoring Those Who Sacrificed: Lesson Plans for Teaching about Veterans Day

Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

Introduction- What is Veteran’s Day?
Early November marks the time wherein we honor our members of armed forces during Veterans Day. Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day until 1954) is a national holiday in the US that is observed on November 11. The holiday honors US military veterans who were honorably discharged. Veterans Day is distinct from Memorial Day, as Veterans Day commemorates the service of all U.S. veterans. However, Memorial Day honors those who have died during military service.

Honoring Men and Women in Armed Forces
The sacrifices that the men and women of the various branches of government make for our freedom cannot be measured. But as a country we must continue to strive toward ways to make them feel appreciated. One great way of doing this is by teachers integrating meaningful material into their curriculum about Veteran’s Day. This can help students understand the importance of those men and women who serve in The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.

Resources and Lesson Materials for Teachers
PBS Learning Media provides many wonderful resources to help educators in their classrooms. We have included some of the resources and lesson plan ideas below just in time for Veterans Day. In describing a powerful lesson for Grades 6-12 PBS Learning Media writes, “Teachers can use this interactive lesson plan in your classroom to help your students understand the significance of the holiday and the true meaning of sacrifice. This activity will have your students identifying important veterans in their lives, examining an interactive timeline of military history, and studying issues that veterans face today.” Click here for the lesson entitled The Greatest Sacrifice: A Lesson Plan for Veterans Day.

November also marks Native American Heritage month. This is a great reminder for us to celebrate the culture and history of First Nations, while also honoring their service. In discussing the lesson and student activities PBS Learning writes:
“Meet three Native American veterans from the Wind River Reservation who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Have your students analyze Indigenous cultural values related to military service and ask themselves the essential question, “Why did Native Americans join the United States military before they were ever considered United States citizens?” Teachers can click on the lesson here entitled, Honor Native American Veterans.

Women military veterans are often overlooked in our society. PBS Learning offers great information about the little known historic Women’s Army Corps:
“Do your students know about the Women’s Army Corps? Created during World War II, the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was the 150,000-woman branch of the United States Army. With the help of historical footage and an interview with a WAC veteran, you can challenge your students’ perceptions of the traditional roles women have held in the workplace and the military.” Click here for the lesson entitled POV: A Veteran’s Experience in the Women’s Army Corps.

Please share what resources you find useful for your teaching.

We are open to feedback and discussion. If you see any typos or grammatical errors, please feel free to email the author and editor at the address below:

1 Comment

  1. The article gives a beautiful work of explaining what Veterans Day is all about – it’s a day to honor the brave men and women who served in the military. It makes it clear that Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which is for remembering those who died while serving. The article also gives some useful tips for teachers on how to talk about Veterans Day in their classrooms, with resources from PBS Learning Media. It’s amazing how the article also shines a light on groups of veterans that don’t always get as much attention, like Native American and women veterans. Overall, this article place a great reminder of why it’s important to honor our veterans and learn about their experiences. It shows that education plays a big role in helping us understand and appreciate the sacrifices they’ve made for our country, and it encourages us to be inclusive and recognize the diversity within the veteran community.

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