Each year on November 11th Americans observe Veterans Day — a day dedicated to honoring veterans; people who have served or are currently serving in the US military.
Originally known as Armistice Day, the holiday was created in 1918 to mark the end of WWI and truce between the Allied countries and German. This day was initially observed with a moment of silence in honor of those who served and sacrificed for lasting peace, growing to include parades and speeches by veterans and politicians. In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day and expanded to include all United States veterans, celebrating and honoring their service in times of war and peace. Today, Veterans Day is marked by public ceremonies, gatherings and vigils at war memorials and monuments, concerts and speeches.
On Veterans Day the President of the United States lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, honoring all of America’s soldiers who have fallen in war. The holiday has also helped create year-round programs like the Veterans History Project, which collects and preserves stories and accounts of U.S. veterans through oral descriptions and primary documents like letters, diaries, photographs and more.
Keep scrolling for educational resources about veterans and Veterans Day, educational programs highlighting the contributions and lives of veterans and their families in our Watch & Wonder block, and local stories from Mountain Lake PBS’ Veterans Coming Home series.
Learn About Veterans, Veterans Day & Military Life
Explore resources and media collections focused on Veterans Day, veterans affairs, and the families of servicepeople in America.
Honoring Our Soldiers | The Warrior Tradition
Grades K-5 Using this media gallery, watch video clips from The Warrior Tradition and discover the diversity of Native American culture and traditions. Then participate in a class discussion about celebrations in your own life, and explore how Native American communities support their soldiers and veterans through their culture and ceremonies.
Soldiers, Veterans, and War in American Life Collection
Grades 3-12 These videos, images, and media-rich lesson plans allow you to bring stories from the battlefront into American history, world history, and health classrooms. Compare veterans’ recounted memories of World War II and Vietnam to understand how these wars shaped American culture. Analyze artifacts and oral histories that reveal important experiences of a nation during times of conflict. Use recent veterans’ personal stories to engage in a discussion of how the choice to become a soldier and the experience of serving relate to personal values and goals.
Grades 6-12 On Veterans Day, most Americans think of the men and women in uniform. But military life also has a huge effect on their children. This Daily News Story from PBS NewsHour Extraincludes additional warm-up and discussion questions for students.
Grades 6-12 The Veterans History Project, which is a special project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, is the largest oral history project in U.S. history. Since it was founded in 2000, it has collected over 65,000 items from thousands of veterans. These items can take many forms from personal narratives (audio and video-taped interviews, written memoirs) and correspondence (letters, postcards, personal diaries) to visual materials (photographs, drawings, scrapbooks). This media gallery from PBS LearningMedia includes a Teacher’s Guide.
Grades 9-12 Follow individual trajectories of America’s diverse community of veterans as they join the military, experience deployments, and then return and adjust to civilian life. Analyze oral histories that describe the camaraderie of the veteran community, the struggles of engaging in combat, and the experiences—positive and negative—of returning to civilian life. Use their personal stories to engage in a discussion of how American veterans are treated by civilians during their service and on returning home from various conflicts. The video resources in this collection are from the four-part documentary American Veteran.
Explore activities and lesson plans about veterans and Veterans Day, as well as featured resources to support military families.
Sesame Street for Military Families
Grades PreK-3 Sesame Street for Military Families is a free, bilingual (English and Spanish) website where families can find information and multimedia resources on the topics of military deployments, multiple deployments, homecomings, injuries, grief, and self-expression. Military families can download free apps, printable activity pages for children, and play online games together to help share your thoughts and feelings.
Promoting Emotional Intelligence for Children in Military Families
Grades PreK-5 Developing emotional intelligence is an essential part of promoting resilience for all children, but practicing these skills may look a little different in military families. Try these strategies to help the military children in your life manage their many emotions.
Grades 3-8 In this interactive lesson, students will learn about Minnie Hollow Wood, a Lakhota woman who fought courageously alongside male warriors in major battles such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Minnie was the first Lakhota woman warrior to be honored with a sacred War Bonnet, a symbolic give-away, representing one of the highest honors of war, peace, and valor. This interactive lesson was designed to give students a snapshot of the struggles that women have faced over the years, and even today, to be seen as equals to men.
PBS NewsHour Classroom | Veterans Day and the Meaning of Sacrifice: Lesson Plan
Grades 6-12 Use this PBS NewsHour Classroom lesson plan to help students understand the significance of Veterans Day and the meaning of sacrifice. Students will identify important veterans in their lives, examine an interactive timeline of military history and study issues facing veterans today.
Conversations and Cups | Craft in America: SERVICE
Grades 9-12 Explore the work of ceramic artist Ehren Tool, who creates clay cups and embellishes them with military images. Tool gives away his cups and has given away over 14,000 in an attempt to provide a catalyst for conversations between veterans and those who have not served in the military. Using this Craft in America video and accompanying teaching guide, students will then create a clay object that represents current U.S. military involvement or represents a veteran, helping them to comprehend the historic connection between the U.S. Armed Forces and crafts.
Tune into the Mountain Lake PBS Watch & Wonder block for special programming in honor of Veterans Day.
Wednesday, November 9
2 PM: The Misty Experiment: The Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail
The story of the special U.S. Air Force squadron whose pilots volunteered for one of the Vietnam War’s most dangerous air missions. Their assignment: search for enemy supply transports and anti-aircraft installations concealed within the web of trail paths and waterways collectively known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The squadron also directed rescue operations for U.S. and allied aircrews shot down.
Narrated by actress Jane Lynch, “Her War, Her Story: World War II” tells the stories of more than two dozen women’s experiences during the war. From members of the U.S. Women’s Army Corps to the civilian witnesses to the war in Europe, this hour-long film shows how women were equal to men in patriotism, service and steadfastness in critical moments.
In “Soldier On: Life After Deployment” three women — Natasha Young, Amanda Tejada and Lyndsey Lyons — confront the challenges of readjusting to civilian life after their post-9/11 military service. Once back in the United States, the women cope with the disintegration of their relationships, alcohol and substance abuse, depression, health problems, military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and employment difficulties.
Filmed primarily in the summer of 2014, “On Home Ground: Life After Service” gives an intimate look into the lives of three veterans who returned home to the Adirondacks in upstate New York after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film poses the question: after all the sacrifice, when does home finally feel like home again? The documentary guides viewers on a journey of re-assimilation.
Veterans Coming Home is an innovative cross-platform public media campaign that bridges America’s military-civilian divide by telling stories, challenging stereotypes and exploring how the values of service and citizenship are powerful connectors for all Americans.
Mountain Lake PBS is a partner station in this national initiative by public media stations around the country. Watch our entire Veterans Coming Home series online, anytime.
Protecting Their True Land
Many may know of the Code Talkers in World Wars One and Two, but there are thousands of other Native Americans who have, and continue to serve in our nation’s armed forces. After decades of persecution, why would Indigenous People want to risk their lives for a country that has treated their people so poorly? Veterans Coming Home producer Mike Hansen found many Mohawks living on both sides of the border who say serving in the military has been a way of life for generations.
A Vietnam Vet’s Love of Photography
In this Emmy winning segment, Rise Above, producer Michael C. Hansen tells the story of Clifford Oliver, a Navy veteran living in Northern New York. After two tours in Vietnam and some time with the photography unit, Oliver left the military and became a photographer using his knowledge to rise above the prejudice he experienced both in the Deep South and on ship.
Finding Your Voice
Female veterans, often an invisible group of service members, find camaraderie and comfort in group retreats held at the Wiawaka Center for Women at the Wiawaka Holiday House in Lake George (village), New York. Though they face the same challenges as their male counterparts, it is while gathering with their fellow female vets that they best discover their voices and share their stories.
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