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Memorial Day – Teaching Students the Meaning of Sacrifice


With Memorial Day just a few weeks away, now is a good time to discuss the meaning of Memorial Day as well as the concept of sacrifice. In order to help educators start these conversations with students, the Medal of Honor Society has created several brief, modified activities educators can use with students or at home to discuss the importance of observing Memorial Day on May 25th.

See links to modified lessons as well as brief descriptions below.

Elementary Lessons:

  • America's White Table- The book America's White Table, read by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams, offers students the opportunity to learn more about the history of the white table and the significance of each item placed on the table. This lesson will help spark a conversation about symbolism and the importance of honoring service members.
  • F is For Flag- Did you know that one of the earliest flags carried by American soldiers had a pine tree in the corner? Or that the flag once had 15 stripes instead of 13? This lesson will teach students about the history of the American flag and the different ways we all can show pride for our country.
  • Patriotic Poppies- We all have seen a buddy poppy at some point in our lives, but how familiar are we with its history? This lesson introduces students to Moina Michael, the creator of the buddy poppy, and asks students to think of different ways we can all honor fallen service members.

Secondary Lessons:

  • Memorial Day: Remembering the Fallen- It is important for all of us to remember the true purpose of Memorial Day: to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. This lesson introduces two Medal of Honor Recipients who gave their lives in the line of duty to save others and challenges students to think of activities that we can do to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
  • The Sacrifices We Make:What does sacrifice mean? This lesson gives students the opportunity to reflect on how the sacrifices of one individual can impact an entire community or nation. By watching Medal of Honor Recipient John "Bud" Hawk's living history, students will realize that the decisions we make, big or small, have the potential to change the lives of those around us.
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