The public has generally been less interested in understanding the Vietnam War over the past decade. After all, since 2001 America’s military has been at war in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
For those who still wish to learn, there are great resources linked below, including the Ken Burns series.
An Easy and Meaningful Approach — Experiential Learning
Follow these steps for a direct, hands-on learning approach. Bring your students as a class around the Lincoln, Korean War and Vietnam Veterans Memorials. Instead of lecturing about the history, immerse them in it.
One: Start with the Lincoln Memorial and have the students walk to where President Lincoln’s statue rests. The students should explore the incredible view of the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol Building. Have them sit on the steps, feel the cold stones as they gaze at the reflecting pool and World War II memorial. Contextualize this memorial: discuss that President Lincoln led the country through its most divided time; our nation persevered through the conflict, and here this beautiful memorial and setting remind us of our unity.
Two: Walk to the Korean War Memorial and meanwhile tell the students about this era in history and US government’s desire to contain communism. Discuss with them what it means to go to war. What’s the difference between fighting for freedom and fighting because your country asks it of you? Walk among the statues and ask the students to imagine themselves in the boots of these soldiers.
Three: Walk to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and stop at the Three Fighting Men statue to see this great work of art. Also note the Agent Orange Plaque near the statue. From there, go to The Wall. Have the students walk from one end to the other.Stop when the wall rises above their heads; have them look at their own reflections, and the sea of names that envelops them. Let them touch the names and feel their history.
Questions for Students:
How did each Memorial make you feel?
What is your duty to the USA when we find ourselves at war?
Are there veterans in your family? How can we pay respect to them?