Friday, November 8, 2013

Thinking about Veterans Day

By Nina Kendall

The approaching Veterans Day has me thinking about the task of teaching about war and the sacrifice Americans have made to protect and defend democracy. We are surrounded by popular portrayals of war and public opinion about war. Americans themselves have called solders heroes and villains. The challenge is determining what to teach students and our children about war and service.

            Do we focus on generals and battles or causes and consequences? Do we read a book or show a movie?  Is there a resource that helps teach about the war in the time we have and the manner we want?  Yes. There is a resource that will help. I recommend the Smithsonian exhibit, The Price of Freedom, Americans at War (  This exhibit has the appeal of short videos and biographies of veterans mixed with images of key artifacts and historical analysis. Beginning with the American Revolution, this website has individual exhibits on Americans in conflict through the war in Iraq today. I think this exhibit can be enjoyed in a large classroom or a small group.

            I first found this website when looking into the Western Indian Wars. This was the best selection of materials I could find for students to use to examine thoughtful conflict in the west with emphasis on Little Bighorn and Wound Knee. I use the exhibit as the basis of a webquest for my students, but you could do any number of activities. You could play the introductory movie in class or have students select an artifact and research its importance. My students enjoy the use of the website and I know they are viewing thoughtful, l historically accurate, interactive materials.

Looking for interactive web resources about other American wars? Check out the ones below. All of these resources offer opportunities for students to interact with history.   One of these resources may be one of your new favorites. Let us know what you enjoy and how you use it!

Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican American War
Civil War
Spanish American War

World War II

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