They Also Served
Social Studies and Language Arts Activity
Students explore the connections between those who served in the armed forces
during wartime and those who remained on the home front.
In advance of this activity, you may want to contact a veterans' organization, senior citizens club, local historical society, or newspaper for potential contacts and interviewees.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Audio or video recorder and tapes
- Reference materials about World War II and/or later conflicts
WHAT TO DO
- Discuss what sources students would use to learn about World War II (or a
later conflict). Explain that one source would be members of their community
who either served in the armed forces or did what they could to help though
they remained at home. Ask students to think of family and other community
members who served in the armed forces during wartime. Explain that those who
remained on the home front also participated in wartime efforts by such actions
as keeping up the morale of service members, collecting materials that were in
short supply, and buying bonds to support the war effort.
- Review with students what they know about interviewing techniques, such as
researching the subject beforehand, having questions prepared, making
appointments with interviewees, recording responses, and acknowledging
contributors' contributions (with thank-you notes).
- Tell students that their task is to search out older members of the
community to learn more about what happened in their state during wartime. With
students, draw up a list of questions they might ask about wartime connections
between those on the home front and armed forces overseas. Starter topics might
include bond drives, scrap collections, the USO, food and gas rationing, and meatless
days. Based on the questions, prepare a worksheet that student interviewers
can fill in.
You may find it helpful to model an interview in class, using the
- Have students record their interviews and summarize, in writing, what they
learned. Encourage students to consider the best way to share what they learned
with their community. Possibilities might include donating the interviews to a
local historical society, collecting their summaries in booklet form, and
presenting dramatized monologues of the interviews.
A local veterans' organization may have an auxiliary made up of family members.
Invite a veteran and a member of the auxiliary to share with the class their
memories of wartime connections.
Plan a visit with students to a war memorial and learn about local observances
that honor veterans. Students may be able to share their research at one of
Share with students a video of a wartime movie that deals with characters both
on the home front and on the front lines. Have students compare what they
learned from their research and the tenor of the film. Lead students to see
that such movies were often intended to keep up the spirits of viewers during a
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