Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Lesson Plan

By Annie Thornton 11.10.2017 blog

December 7 marks National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Last year, Channel One News visited Pearl Harbor to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Japan’s infamous attack on the U..S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii — an event that plunged the United States into war. About 16 million Americans served in World War II, but only 620, 000 veterans are still alive today. Teach your students about the “Greatest Generation,” and learn about one teen’s nonprofit mission to preserve their stories for generations to come.

Opening Activity

Display this image for students (click image to view large). hen ask them to work in pairs to answer the following questions:

Photograph by U.S. Navy

  • List all of the details you notice in this photograph.
  • Based on these details, what historic event do you think is depicted on this photograph? Why?

Watch: Pearl Harbor, Part 1: 75th Anniversary

Whole-Class Discussion

  • Why did the United States enter World War II?
  • Why is it important for young people to understand historic events such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor? What are some ways young people can learn more about historic events like this?

Watch: Pearl Harbor, Part 2: The Greatest Generation

View Slideshow: “The Greatest Generation”

Image Credit: Speedfighter/Bigstock

If you’re at least 12 years old, your generation is the millennial generation. That’s because you were born around the year 2000. Before you came Generation X. The X indicates that this generation is not known for anything in particular.

Image Credit: dolgachov/Bigstock

The baby boomers came before Generation X. They were born soon after World War II. The world was safe again, so families had many babies. The boomers are known for their large numbers. In the 1960s, many were hippies. Later, some became yuppies.

Image Credit: American Battle Monuments Commission

The Greatest Generation came before the baby boomers. Why was it great? This generation fought World War II! Before that they survived the Great Depression. The Depression was a severe economic downturn that began in 1929. Fifteen million Americans were unemployed.

Image Credit: Public Domain/ courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

Times were hard. But the Greatest Generation found ways to get by. Neighbors shared food and helped each other out. People took any job they could find. Millions of Americans rode freight trains around the country in search of work.

Image Credit: Gary Blakeley/Bigstock

The Depression ended when World War II began. People found work manufacturing armaments and other supplies for the war. The Greatest Generation contributed to every aspect of the war effort. Sixteen million Americans served in the military. Hundreds of thousands died.

Image Credit: Library of Congress/US Office of War Information

Back home, people grew their own food and collected metal for manufacturing. With so many men at war, factories experienced labor shortages. So millions of women went to work in defense plants. They built the machinery that helped win the war.


  • Why does the “Greatest Generation” have that nickname?
  • What does Rishi hope to accomplish with his website and nonprofit? Do you think he will be successful? Why or why not?
  • What types of  information could you expect to find on Rishi’s webiste?What could you learn from Rishi’s website and nonprofit that you could not learn from in class or from a history textbook?

Explanatory Writing Prompt

Rishi Sharma says World War II veterans are “walking history books.” Write a new chapter for your school’s history textbook about the Greatest Generation. Include relevant information from the videos, slideshow and your own ideas to complete your response.

Media Literacy

Direct students to  the National Archives websiteHave students listen to an excerpt of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous “Day of Infamy” speech.

Then, have them read the primary source document of President Roosevelt’s typed pages with handwritten edits.

If pages are not easily legible for some students, they can read the speech here (PDF).

Then answer the following questions:

  • Who is the author? Who is the intended audience?
  • When was it written? Where was it written?
  • What was happening at the time in history that this document was created?
  • What was the purpose of this speech? Quote evidence from the document that tells you this. (To urge Congress to formally declare war on Japan, which they did just minutes later, and to rally the American people to support the war effort.)

Closing Activity

Ask students the following question and have them share their thoughts on an exit ticket:

  • Does the Greatest Generation deserve its nickname? Why or why not?

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  1. harley

    my great gpa was in world war 2

  2. harley

    my great grandpa was in wwii

  3. Anthony

    World war two is no good because people get shot to fight for family

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