Sunday, May 26, 2013

Making the Most of Memorial Day

Memorial Day...also known as Decoration Day.

Arlington National Cemetery
photo by Lance Mosier.
For many Memorial Day is the official start to Summer. Although I appreciate a good barbecue and warmer weather, the true meaning of Memorial Day is to remember all the brave Americans who have lost their lives defending this country.

Memorial Day originally started after one of America's most bloodiest wars, The Civil War. The holiday was originally known as Decoration Day, which was a day to go to cemeteries to pay respect to loved ones who were killed during this conflict. Viewing these two websites, Civil War Infographic of Causalities and Battles and Casualties of the Civil War Map, it is easy to see why so many began this tradition. Everybody in the country was impacted by this war in some way or another.

 Below are a list of websites and resources to help you and your students remember Memorial Day.

Learn About The Soldiers:

Great Great Grandfather who served in Civil War.
Civil War Soldier Database: Search for a family member or local civil war soldier who fought in the Civil War to learn about what unit they were in, battles they fought in, and other interesting information about this Civil War Soldier. I found some great information about my own family member who served in the Civil War.

The Civil War 14 National Cemeteries: Search the 14 Civil War National Cemeteries by using their database to look for family or those in your community who fought in the Civil War and are buried at these cemeteries.

Antietam 360- Battle of Antietam: Can't make it to a National Cemetery or a Civil War Battlefield, go to this very well done website. Visit the Antietam Civil War Battlefield and learn from Park Rangers about this important battle and some of the interesting history found there.

My Great Uncle who died in France
 during World War I

Nebraskans in World War I: Database of Nebraska Soldiers who served in World War I. You can search by names or by counties. This is where I found a picture of my Uncle Frank. I talked about this in a previous Blog Post "A Personal Touch...Soldiers and World War I"

The Price of Freedom: Americans at War A good interactive database of artifacts and items soldiers used in all wars American's have been involved in to learn about the life of a Soldier.

***New 2017*** Soldiers, Veterans, and War in American Life via PBS Learning Media has a great collection of videos, images, and lesson plans to help students explore the solider's perspective.

Vietnam Memorial
Photo by Lance Mosier

Visit The Vietnam Memorial Wall 

(Virtually if you can't make it to D.C.)

Look for soldiers from your community who died in Vietnam by using the database from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and than visit the Virtual Wall at View the Wall to find their names on the Memorial itself.

I had my students do this when we were studying the Vietnam War. I was able to get a list of alumni from our High School who died in Vietnam and I had students see if they could find their names on the Wall and any history about them. 

Learn about TAPS and Arlington National Cemetery

Taps Player Statue at
Arlington Visitor Center
Photo by Lance Mosier
Taps Bugler: Is a A very informative website about the history of Taps, sound files and music, and other really interesting information about this iconic song.

Arlington National Cemetery App: If you get a chance to visit Arlington National Cemetery and have a Smartphone (iPhone, Droid) make sure you download the app to help you find markers and monuments at the cemetery. 

Read On Hallowed Ground by Robert M. Poole which is a great book on the History of Arlington Cemetery. Great read for Memorial Day. 

Watch My Favorite Rendition of the Gettysburg Address. 

Watch The Changing Of The Guards At The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Watch the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of  the Unknown Soldier. Here is a video I shot while in DC in April, 2013.

The First Decoration Day by David W. Blight Yale University  
Learn about African Americans important role in Decoration Day at Charleston, SC. 

Quote of President Truman at the
WWII Memorial Washington D.C.
Photo by Lance Mosier

I hope that you find these resources helpful to you and your students. I would love to hear from you what you do to help connect Memorial Day, Soldiers, and our Cemeteries to our students in the comments section below.

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