Introduction

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is observed annually on November 11 to honor military veterans, people who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1918 to honor the end of World War I. In 1938, November 11 became a legal holiday dedicated to honoring World War I veterans. This act was later amended to include all veterans by changing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans.” Teaching students about Veterans Day is important because veterans have done such a great service to our country that they deserve to be recognized for their bravery and patriotism. 

Resources

There are many resources online for teaching students about the history and importance of Veterans Day. These lesson plans, articles, and informational sites will help educators and students alike honor the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us on Veterans Day. 

Lesson Plans

  1. Veterans Day and the Meaning of Sacrifice: PBS provides a NewsHour lesson plan to help students understand the significance of Veterans Day and the meaning of sacrifice. In the lesson, students will identify important veterans in their lives, examine an interactive timeline of military history, and study issues veterans face today. The lesson includes a warm-up activity, containing a pre-quiz, two videos, and a timeline, along with the main activity, which consists of videos, articles, an interactive map, worksheets, and more. At the end of the lesson, there are a few writing prompts that educators can utilize, asking students to thank an important veteran in their life, argue for or against the claim that veterans today face challenges veterans in the past did not, or choose a war to write about one day in the life of a veteran before, during, and after the war. 
  2. Veterans Day and Patriotism: Scholastic offers students in grades 3-5 a lesson about what it means to be a veteran and the symbols, songs, and pledges that define American patriotism. The directions for the lesson are broken down into three categories, including pre-instructional planning, during instruction, and post-instructional. In the lesson, educators will teach students what makes a veteran and review the importance of the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and “The Star Spangled Banner.” Educators who are looking for a lesson which encourages students to engage in whole class and small group discussions should check this one out!
  3. Veterans Day Activities, Printables & Lessons: TeacherVision has put together Veterans Day activities, printables, and lessons. From this resource, educators will find Veterans Day worksheets to honor heroes, patriotic songs, facts about flags, pop-up art books to make, and more. There are many creative ways for teachers to teach students about Veterans Day using the materials provided by TeacherVision!
  4. Veterans Day Lesson Plans and Activities: educationworld provides a list of Veterans Day lesson ideas and additional resources, which include lessons, activities, music, and more. From these resources, educators will teach students about the significance of Veterans Day, citizenship themes, and various historical events (World War I, World War II, D-Day, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, etc.).
  5. Veterans Day Activities, Grades 9-12: The National Education Association (nea) offers a list of lesson plans, activities, and resources that focus on wartime service and sacrifice. Depending on the lesson, students will have the opportunity to view and interpret Winslow Homer’s 1865 painting The Veteran in a New Field, learn about the Normandy Invasion, and explore the relationship of love and war by examining “How to Tell a True War Story.”

Articles 

  1. The History of Veterans Day: Military.com has published a brief article on Veterans Day. Specifically, the article discusses the history of Veterans Day, the celebration of the Veterans Day holiday, and the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. To learn more about the Veterans Day celebrations in 2020, both in person and virtual, educators should encourage their students to take a look at Military.com’s Veterans Day 2020 Parades, Events and More.
  2. The History of Veterans Day and How to Celebrate with Kids During the Pandemic: This article from Today provides students with information about why we celebrate Veterans Day and suggestions on how kids can celebrate this holiday during the pandemic. These suggestions include thanking a veteran, making a call or planning a virtual celebration, decorating your house or yard, and watching veterans share their oral histories through the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
  3. From Armistice Day to Veterans Day: How History Has Led us to Honor All Heroes of Our Nation: The Ripon Society has published an article on the history of Veterans Day, which discusses the first annual commemoration of Armistice Day, the reason behind the establishment of Armistice Day, the transition from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and the celebration of Veterans Day today. 
  4. These Are Veterans Day Lessons Your Students Won’t Forget: Western Governors University (WGU) provides an article written by an educator on Veterans Day lessons students will not forget. The author first discusses how it is important for students to remember our past in order to protect the future before talking about a memorable morning where she tried to help her students connect with veterans. She also provides educators with a few other ways to teach kids about Veterans Day, which may be more relevant at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Informational Sites

  1. 5 Facts to Know About Veterans Day: The U.S. Department of Defense offers five important facts people should know about Veterans Day. These facts include that Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day, the holiday was originally called Armistice Day, other countries celebrate this holiday, too, in their own ways, and more. For educators who are planning an in-class lesson but want their students to have a bit of background information on this federal holiday should consider using this article as a homework assignment. 
  2. Veterans Day Facts: History.com provides Veterans Day facts, including when Veterans Day is and veterans today. In addition, a two-minute video on Veterans Day is also available above the brief article and a link to History.com’s 15 Quotes Honoring U.S. Veterans, which may help students better understand how important veterans are to our country.
  3. The Origins of Veterans Day: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a short publication on the origins of Veterans Day. The article discusses the creation of Armistice Day, how Armistice Day was changed to honor all veterans, and the national ceremonies held at Arlington National Cemetery. In addition, the article offers a link to the site’s page on Veterans Day, which has a Veterans Day poster gallery, a list of the 2020 National Veterans Day regional sites, information related to the National Veterans Day Ceremony, a 2020 Teachers Guide on Veterans Day, and more. 

Conclusion

Teaching about Veterans Day is very important because all citizens of the United States should recognize the sacrifices that veterans have made to ensure the protection of our country. Many students have family members, friends, and neighbors who have served in the armed forces, and learning about their contribution is a necessary step for them to not only thank their loved ones for their service but understand also their true value on this day.

Additional Resources

  1. Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs – History of Veterans Day: The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs provides a brief history of Veterans Day. Topics covered include the first commemoration of Armistice Day, the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” issued by President Eisenhower, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and more. 
  2. ABC10 – History of Veterans Day: ABC10 offers a video on the history of Veterans Day.
  3. Veterans Day Activities, Worksheets, Lesson Plans: TeacherPlanet has compiled a list of activities, worksheets, lesson plans, printables, coloring pages, clipart, and additional resources to help students remember and understand Veterans Day.
  4. Veterans Day is Celebrated in the United States Today: ReadWriteThink has put together a classroom resource for Veterans Day. The resource includes a classroom activity, which calls for students to write biographical poems about a soldier by completing the lines of a poem provided, and a handful of websites that offer information on Veterans Day.