This two-day lesson plan demonstrates the importance of Memorial Day for students. It includes Channel One News videos and slideshows, as well as links to pertinent writing such as the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae and the story of the role of poppies as the Flower of Remembrance. Students will write two brief pieces, explaining the impact of World War I, and finally, a plan for celebrating Memorial Day and honoring fallen soldiers.
Check for Understanding:
World War I, which claimed the lives of 16 million people, officially ended in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Nearly a hundred years later, many of the world’s conflicts can be traced back to that war and its immediate aftermath.
During WWI, the world’s great powers took sides against one another. On one side were the Central Powers: Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Ottoman empire. On the other side were the Allied Powers: Britain, France, and Russia. When the war ended, the defeated German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires were in ruins.
The Allied Powers took advantage of their victory by redrawing the world map. Britain and France carved up the lands of the Ottoman Empire without consideration for religious or ethnic differences. They created the country of Iraq by joining Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni provinces. Today, Iraq is violently splitting apart along those prewar lines.
The Treaty of Versailles required Germany to give up 10% of its land and pay the Allied Powers for the damages they suffered during the war. Historians believe that the humiliation and economic pain caused by these harsh terms led to the rise of the ultra-nationalist Nazis, who viewed Jews as foreigners they could blame for Germany’s decline.
Even before WWII, Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Europe had been migrating to the area then known as Palestine. They believed that they would only be safe in a Jewish homeland. After the Holocaust, the Nazi’s systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews, much of the world agreed.
On May 14, 1948, with support from the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries, the Jews living in Palestine declared that they were forming the State of Israel. Today, Israel is still in violent conflict with the Arabs displaced by its formation.
Although Russia was one of the victorious Allied Powers, it suffered 3 million casualties — more than any other country. Dissatisfaction with the war led to the Russian Revolution of 1917, the creation of the Soviet Union, and its Cold War with the United States. Today, the Soviet Union no longer exists, but experts see Russia’s current aggression against Ukraine as an extension of Cold War hostilities.
How did decisions made during the aftermath of WWI create future conflicts throughout the world?
In a few paragraphs, describe the consequences of World War I that the world is still coping with today. How were future generations of American soldiers affected? Cite evidence from the story script and the Extend Slideshow.
Share student responses.
The Flower of Remembrance
Turn to a partner and discuss different ways we can best honor our fallen U.S. soldiers. Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Toll of U.S. War Dead
The Story Taps
Taps Performed at Arlington Cemetery
Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetery Listing
Flying the American Flag at half staff
How to fold a U.S. flag
Correct display of a U.S. flag
How to make felt poppies
Work with your partner to develop a plan to honor U.S. soldiers who have lost their lives defending our country. Include who you’ll involve, what you’d like to do, where the plan will take place and all of the necessary details to complete your idea. Write down your memorial plan, including an explanation as to why you think this is a worthy tribute.
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