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 Learning at Home block, and local stories from Mountain Lake PBS’ Veterans Coming Home series.
Grades 3-5 On Veterans Day, Americans remember war veterans and the trials and hardships they experienced. Learn more about the holiday and how it is observed with this U.S. Department of State resource.
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.
Photos Capture Collision of Military and Civilian Life
Grades 6-12 Look into an artist’s process in capturing veterans’ stories with this video and educational materials from PBS NewsHour from November 11, 2014.
Veterans’ Stories: The Veterans History Project
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 also includes a Teacher’s Guide.
MN Original | The Telling Project – Theater
Grades 6-12 The Telling Project, a performing arts non-profit, uses theater to help deepen understanding of veterans’ experiences. Racheal Robinson is a wife, mother and Staff Sergeant currently serving in the Minnesota Air National Guard. With The Telling Project team Racheal delves into her story of service and, along with five other veterans, step on The Guthrie Theater stage to tell their stories in their own words.
Activities, Lesson Plans & More
Explore activities and lesson plans about veterans and Veterans Day, as well as featured resources to support military families.
Veterans Day Printables | Sesame Street
Grades PreK-K Make a finger puppet parade of pride with these Veterans Day muppets and make these Veterans Day printables into cards or signs by coloring them.
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
PBS NewsHour Extra | Veterans Day and the Meaning of Sacrifice: Lesson Plan
Grades 6-12 Use this PBS NewsHour Extra 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.
Learning at Home Programs
In honor of Veterans Day, check out these great programs on the Mountain Lake PBS Learning at Homeblock! Join us as we learn about the history of this important holiday, and about the service and lives of veterans in America.
Tuesday, November 9
2 PM: American Veteran: The Mission
Military life shapes servicemen and women in profound, unexpected ways. Veterans’ stories showcase the raw impact of these experiences: A Coast Guard recruit who helped ferry soldiers on D-Day. A pilot who remotely guided bomber drones over Afghanistan. A Marine who became the first Latina general. Hosted by Senator Tammy Duckworth, Iraq War Veteran (Army) and Purple Heart recipient.
The iconic Memphis Belle underwent a 13 year restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. This documentary features the work of two teams: the crew who flew her into combat and the team that restored her to her former glory.
Elvis and the USS Arizona tells the surprising story of how one of music’s biggest icons helped to establish a USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor. Elvis’ fundraising concert drew public attention to the plight and helped to galvanize efforts to finish the USS Arizona Memorial as it stands today.
Hollywood war stories mostly end with the hero’s return. In reality, the road back to civilian life is less certain. For some, there were ticker-tape parades; for others, protests, anger and silence. Some veterans return home full of confidence, while others think, “What am I going to do now?” Hosted by actor Wes Studi, Vietnam War Veteran (National Guard) and Native American (Cherokee) activist.
This inspirational and heartwarming documentary highlights the journey of disabled veterans whose lives are forever changed through the unconditional love of service dogs that have been expertly trained by female prison inmates. Join three veterans as they meet their service dog and work directly with the inmates in a Texas women’s prison.
“Those who went into the service and those who did not, we are two different realities,” a Veteran decides. But Veterans don’t all feel the same. Some like “Thank you for your service”; others feel it’s “bumper-sticker deep.” Veterans reflecting ask how veterans and civilians can move America forward together. Hosted by J. R. Martinez, Army Veteran, actor, and motivational speaker.
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.
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.