A map showing the hometowns of your state's victims of the Vietnam War creates a stunning visual reminder of the impact of war and the importance of remembering on Memorial Day those who sacrificed their lives so we might live freely.
- create a map that illustrates the local (your state) impact of the Vietnam War.
- recognize the reasons we celebrate Memorial Day.
Vietnam, Memorial Day, soldiers, war, state, geography, Veteran's Day
- a large map of your state (see Before the Lesson for resources)
- index cards or construction paper in red, white, and blue (optional)
- printed biographical info or photos from the Web (optional)
Memorial Day is a time to recognize and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In this lesson, students use pushpins to indicate on a large map of their state the hometowns of their state's victims of the Vietnam War. The map will serve as a visual reminder of the impact of war on the United States and the fact that soldiers from places they know gave up their lives so that we might live freely.
Before the Lesson Obtain a large map of your state (you might get a free map from your local AAA office or purchase one at a local department or book store) and post it to a bulletin board.
Another option is to print a map of your state from the Internet (See sources such as 50States.com's Blank Outline State Maps, and then copy that map onto a transparency, use an overhead projector to project an enlarged image of the map transparency on the bulletin board, and trace the map.
Students use an Internet resource to collect information about soldiers from your state who were killed in action in Vietnam.
Vietnam Veterans Memoral Wall Page
Scroll down the page to the search engine. Click the name of your state in the Home State/Country drop-down menu. Then click the Start Search button to see a list of soldiers from your state who were killed in Vietnam. (Ten names are listed per page.) If your students do not have Internet access, you could create a list of your state's victims of the war by copying and pasting the entire text of the page(s) into a word processing document; then deleting all the information except the soldier's name and hometown. Note: Each soldier's profile includes a link to more detailed information about him or her and to a page where memorial messages or photographs can be left.
The Virtual Wall: Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Click your state's name for a list of those from your state who were killed in service during the Vietnam War. There you will find a list of servicemen and women; click any name to link to a biography page. Many biographies include photos.
Students mark with a pushpin on the state map the hometown location of each soldier who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. You might provide each student with several names to mark on the map, or you might arrange students into groups and give each group a page of names to mark.
After marking the map, discuss with students their impressions of it. It is likely students have never given much thought to the fact that so many people from your state gave their lives in the Vietnam War. (And this is only one of the more recent wars in which U.S. soldiers have served and sacrificed.) Ask: Why is it important to remember those soldiers? Why is it important to participate in Memorial Day events? The discussion might also lead students to talk about the diversity of the men and women who served, how those killed were of many ranks and played many different roles in the war, and why it is important to support U.S. troops stationed around the United States and the world today.
- In addition to marking the hometown locations on the state map, students might print from the Internet (or copy to an index card) some of the biographical information about each soldier. To put an even more personal touch on the map, the index cards could be displayed around the map. Yarn could be used to connect each pushpin to the biography of a soldier.
- Many of the soldier/service personnel biographies in the resources above include photos. It would be nice if, where available, a photo could be included with each biography. That would add a personal touch to the map and illustrate the cultural diversity of our fighting forces.
- Instead of using index cards, each serviceman or woman's biography could be written on a large star cut from red, white, or blue paper. (See instructions for making five-pointed stars.)
- Invite a Vietnam War veteran to visit your classroom to see the map the students created. Ask the vet to share his or her experiences in the war, and to answer students' questions about the war.
- Learn more about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- Read aloud Eve Bunting's touching book, The Wall, about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
- Be sure to include an inset map on the bulletin board that shows the world. Color in the location of the United States and the location of Vietnam so students can put those locations in perspective.
- Extend the lesson by doing research about local men and women who served or gave their lives in conflicts around the globe.
Students write a paragraph in their journals to explain what they learned from doing this activity. Their comments might reflect on the number of soldiers killed, the diversity of the troops who served, the fact that it was not only soldiers who were killed (nurses, chaplins, and others were killed too), and that it is important to have a day set aside to remember those who have served in Vietnam and in all other conflicts, past and present, the United States has been involved in.
Lesson Plan Source
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
GRADES K - 4
NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.4 Other Nations and World Affairs
NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
GRADES K - 12
NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.2 The History of Students' Own State or Region
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 to 12.10 All Eras, with a special focus on
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-WH.5-12.8 The 20th Century
GRADES K - 12
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
Find more Memorial Day activity ideas in Education World's Memorial Day Archive.
Click to return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day.
Originally published 05/16/2003
Last updated: 11/11/2014