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. I really enjoyed reading this article. I plan on being a teacher, and this article will be a really good resource for my future classroom. I feel like my school never really talked about Veterans day and Memorial day. I mean, we were told when these holidays were because we’re out of class, but I never learned what the days truly mean. I definitely think learning about the difference is important, so I will for sure use these lessons in my future classroom.

  2. I really enjoyed this article. While going through school I don’t remember many veterans’ days learn about verbenas and I think it is a thing kids should know because they could have relatives or role models that were service members, and they don’t have any clue what they go through. honoring men and women who serve to protect is really important cease they deserve if for what they do you don’t see the things they do every day so taking time to learn gives kids and idea of what they do for us.

  3. I really enjoyed the article as a whole. I learned or relearned maybe the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The distinction between someone who served and someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving. I think it is important as a future teacher to integrate Veterans Day into the curriculum, especially as a history teacher. I think it is important to allow for students get an understanding of all the history and one thing that may be overlooked is the native American impact on the US, not just them as a first nation and the pilgrims. I find that introducing this to a level that the student will understand is vital to the future education for the students. This also includes women’s studies in the military as well as black soldiers.

  4. This article is a great tool to read because I am going to be a teacher and want to educate my kids on Veterans Day. In my past years of school on Veterans Day, we weren’t taught about the purpose of the day, and didn’t even talk about it that much. After looking through the lesson plan to help kids understand the importance of Veterans Day, I am definitely going to implant that in my curriculum.

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