Quick Lesson for Memorial Day

This post would have been more timely last week,  but since we are out so early this year, I didn't get a chance to do this with my students.  They were in too much of a party mood on Friday, and rightfully so with it being our last day:). 

Unfortunately, unless they have a real connection to the military, too many of our students think of "war" in the terms of a first-person shooter game and Memorial Day as a day off school.  I came across these video clips a few years ago, and wanted to share them just in case anyone was looking for a quick simple, but effective lesson for Memorial Day.  

History Channel Memorial Day Photos
1.  Usually, I will ask them to do a Think-Write-Pair-Share about what they think Memorial Day is about. Depending on their background, they usually do not have much of an idea past the fact that they get to sleep in.  
2.  Then we watch some great short videos from the History Channel that not only explain the history of Memorial Day, but demonstrate the reality of it with montage of footage from memorial services in the field, and formal military funerals at home. There are several to choose from at the link above.  Which ones I show depends on the maturity of the group, and if they have any family members currently in the military (not too many bases in our area anymore).  At the middle school level, these videos almost always get a quiet and somber response.
3.  Then we revisit and revise their Think-Write-Pair-Share. 
4.  To close, we brainstorm ways we can honor the men and women who lost their lives while serving in our military.

My brother just retired from the Air Force, and I am so thankful that survived his multiple deployments relatively intact.  Some people hear Air Force, and automatically assume he spent all of time at a "safe airfield."   He was in the Security Forces and actually spent most of his deployments on convoy protection, recruiting and training local police, providing cover for forward bases, and knocking down doors.  So today, I am so very thankful that he is home with his family, but very aware that too many of his friends are not.

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