20 Memorial Day Resources Honoring Veterans Past & Present

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These resources highlight Memorial Day and the upcoming 70th anniversary of D-Day (6/6) by celebrating the stories of Veterans from across the country; resource list includes rich local content from PBS stations around the country.

WWII Prairie Memories | Video | Grades 3-12
Sailor John Beston, army nurse Marcy Korda, RCAF pilot Leonard Jorgenson, navy ship fitter James Fritz, army sergeant Earl Roesler, and RCAF mechanic Roy Empson recount their wartime stories. World War II veterans are extraordinary – their bravery inspires us and their sacrifices secured our freedoms. WWII Prairie Memories is a collection of veteran voices as well as a piece of history that communicates the personal challenges and spiritual experience that define this generation of heroes. The episodes are compilations of selected veteran narratives recorded at Veterans Bonanzaville in West Fargo, ND; ND Cowboy Hall of Fame, Medora ND; Prairie Public Studios, Fargo ND; Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, Moorhead MN; and Morris Legion, Morris MB.

Ira Hayes History | Video | Grades  4-12
Seventy thousand marines were sent to capture the island of Iwo Jima. More than 23,000 died trying. Six became a symbol of courage for our nation at war. It took just one click of a camera. Of the six flag raisers forever frozen atop Mt. Suribachi in this famous photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press, one was a Pima Indian from Arizona. His name was Ira Hamilton Hayes. Learn about Ira Hamilton Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona and one of the six marines who were photographed raising the American flag at Iwo Jima during WWII. Recognize how the war and celebrity affected Hayes and may have led to his early death.

Frank Luke: WWI Hero | Video | Grades 4-12
In 1917, Lt. Frank Luke of Phoenix was stationed in France with other WWI troops as an army aircraft fighter. Luke was credited with shooting down 18 enemy aircraft including several enemy observation balloons. Throughout his flight escapades, Luke was so good at shooting down his enemy that his fellow soldiers nicknamed him the "Arizona Balloon Buster." On his last aircraft attacks on enemy air balloons, Luke was killed in action. Today, Arizona remembers its fallen soldier with the Luke Air Force base, named after Lt. Frank Luke.

Civil War | Videos and Lesson Plan | Grades 4-13+
The Civil War (1861-1865) is America’s bloodiest war to date. It cost close to 1,100,000 casualties and claimed over 620,000 lives. These lesson plans and videos are based on History Detectives episodes that examine a variety of artifacts—a weapon, an early photograph, a letter, a piece of pottery—that highlight African-American involvement in the Civil War. They offer students opportunities to research and create paper or interactive biographical posters, delve into the intersection of military and social history, and survey slave art and culture.


Family History | Lesson Plans and Videos | Grades 4-13+
Family stories are a rich window on the past. They can paint pictures of an important period in history through the experience, perspective, and memories of people who lived during that time. These lesson plans and videos which spin off of artifacts and family heirlooms featured in History Detectives episodes offer students opportunities to dig deeper into their own family history. Through activities that emphasize genealogical research and oral history interviews, students can begin to discover and access new information about themselves—as well as acquire the skills required to become history detectives in their own right.

The Passage of the Delaware | Image | Grades 5-13+
Image from the Bridgeman Library. Sully, Thomas (1783-1872) (after), American. 19th Century. George Washington (1732-99). Provenance: Private Collection.

Civil War Soldier & Spy | Lesson Plan and Videos | Grades 6-12
It is estimated that between 500 and 1,000 women went into military service during the American Civil War, yet their contributions to major events of that era are often overlooked, misunderstood, misrepresented, or undocumented. Using excerpts from the documentary film Rebel: Loreta Velazquez Civil War Soldier and Spy and the remarkable story of Loreta Velazquez as a guide, students will: consider how factors such as gender and race shape our understanding of history.

Coming Home From War | Lesson Plan and Videos | Grades 6-12
These resources utilizes the film and website resources for The Way We Get By, which tells the story of a group of volunteers who have greeted more than 900,000 troops at a tiny airport in Bangor, Maine. Classrooms can use the resources to conduct an investigation that compares and contrasts the homecoming experiences of soldiers who served in World War II, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Home Again | Videos | Grades 6-12
Former soldiers from the Iraq war are forced to overcome injuries and deal with handicaps that they sustained overseas as they return to the Eastern Shore. These men focus on getting back to a normal life through a rehab program that encourages them to hunt and fish in the outdoors despite their injuries.

Tim O’Brien Recalls Vietnam War | Video| Grades 6-12
Marking the 20th anniversary of its publication, author Tim O'Brien reads an excerpt from "The Things They Carried," a novel about the experiences of a group of soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Eisenhower’s Order of the Day (1944) | National Archives Documents and  | Grades 6-13+
Investigate primary source images of General Eisenhower’s Order of the Day and a photograph of him encouraging the Allied Expeditionary Force before the start of the Battle of Normandy. Explore the historical context. This order was issued by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to encourage Allied soldiers taking part in the D-day invasion. This resource group includes 2 primary source images, a background essay and a transcript.

Servicemen's Readjustment Act (1944) | Images and Transcript | Grades 6-13+
Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, this act, also known as the GI Bill, provided veterans of the Second World War funds for college education, unemployment insurance, and housing. This resource group includes 2 primary source images, a background essay and a transcript.

Zimmermann Telegram (1917) | Primary Source Documents | Grades 6-13+
This telegram, written by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, was a coded message sent to Mexico, proposing a military alliance against the United States. The obvious threats to the United States contained in the telegram inflamed American public opinion against Germany and helped convince Congress to declare war against Germany in 1917. This resource group includes 2 primary source images, a background essay and a transcript. Investigate primary source images of the 1917 Zimmerman telegram, coded and deciphered, which proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico against the United States. Consider how the message spurred the United States into declaring war.

Facing It, by Yusef Komunyakaa
| Video | Grades 7-12

Fourteen years after the Vietnam War, veteran and contemporary poet Yusef Komunyakaa wrote about facing the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial wall and the memories and images the wall evoked. In this video segment from Poetry Everywhere, Komunyakaa reads his poem, "Facing It" at the Dodge Poetry Festival.

Student Reporting Labs: Military Families | Video | 7-12
This Daily News Story from PBS NewsHour Extra was created on November 11th, 2013. On Veterans Day, most Americans think of the men and women in uniform. But military life also has a huge effect on their children.

A Woman’s Place | Multiple Resources | Grade 11
Explore the roles women played in the U.S. economy and war industry during World War II. Learn about how the widespread employment of American women during World War II caused lasting economic changes in the United States. This unit includes video interviews, a lesson plan, an essay rubric and a "create your own" document based question activity.

VE Day | Multiple Resources | Grade 11
Explore the history and legacy of VE Day, and listen to the experiences of U.S. WWII veterans who were serving in Europe on VE Day. Students will learn about VE day, or Victory in Europe Day, through this KACV educational unit on WWII. The unit includes videos of veterans recalling related events, a lesson plan, instructions for an audio project, and lecture notes.

Pearl Harbor
| Lesson Plan and Videos | Grade 11
Learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Students will consider whether the attack could have been prevented and learn that proper communication is vital to protect society and to prevent conflict.The unit includes video interviews with WWII veterans, a student research handout, and a lesson plans.


D-Day & the Texas Panhandle Lesson Plan and Videos | Grade 11
With these resources identify and understand the important figures, events, and terminology that pertain to the Allied invasion of Normandy (D-Day). Understand the events surrounding the invasion of Normandy from the experiences of a soldier who participated in the event.