Curriculum and Activities for Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and Veterans Day


  1. Plan to visit a local veteran hospital.
  2. Plan a commemorative ceremony in your school, church or community organization.  Use background information found in this packet, including the poems, and introduce personal stories of local veterans.
  3. Plan to take a moment of silence at work or in school to remember past veterans and to  “thank” veterans currently serving.
  4. If you know a friend or family member who has served, send them a card or give them a call, letting them know how much you appreciate their serving.
  5. Send a letter or package to military personnel who are currently servicing.  Let them know how extraordinary you think they are.

Ideas for the Classroom

  • Identify past and current international events that have resulted in the death of servicemen and women.
  • Identify how we remember those who have given their lives in service to our country.
  • Discuss and debate who should be remembered during observation events, such as Veterans Day, and the relative importance of giving remembrance.
  • Consider how the loss of loved ones impacts on friends, families and colleagues.
  • Discuss how governments have a duty of care to their citizens and to remember those members of the Armed Forces who have died.
  • Discuss the implications of a life without personal freedom and social justice.
  • Demonstrate an ability to participate in a well-argued debate and to carefully consider and respond to opposing viewpoints regarding war, and maintaining peace.
  • Research and present international conflicts in which the global community is currently involved.
  • Find out how military personnel can work to establish peace in various parts of the world.
  • Fully understand the hardships experienced by military personnel captured during various conflicts. Know that this has happened during current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Churchill's Wartime Speeches


Churchill's Wartime Speeches: 1940-1941

Lesson Plan by Jannette Milligan

This lesson is intended for use in a unit on World War II. It will focus on the time period from May 10, 1940 to June 21, 1941 – the time period beginning with Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, encompassing the time period when France fell and Britain fought the Germans essentially alone, and ending just before the German invasion of the USSR on June 22, 1941.

The lesson will provide students the opportunity to learn about this time period, to read several of Winston Churchill’s speeches from this time period, to discuss the context of these speeches, and to analyze their importance in contributing to the formation of a national British consensus to continue to fight the Germans.

How did Winston Churchill, through his speeches, contribute to the formation of a collective British resolve to continue fighting during the critical time period when Britain was alone in fighting Germany?

Prior to beginning this lesson
, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the policies by which the British Government attempted to pursue peace in the 1930’s, the leaders who advocated these policies, and the reasons for the failure of these policies.
  2. Provide a basic history of both Adol fHitler and the Naz iParty, including their goals in ruling Germany from 1933.
  3. Evaluate the role of Winston Churchill, a British Member o fParliament who held no position in the Government, in warning that the combination of British policies and German policies would be disastrous for the continent.
  4. Explain the events which led to a British declaration of war on Germany in September 1939.
  5. Define the term blitzkrieg; explain its uses; and list in chronological order the nations that fell to the Nazi blitzkrieg in 1939-1940.
  6. Analyze the factors that contributed to the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the accession of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940.

Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  1. Display a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the following events of 1940-1941: the evacuation of Dunkirk, the fall of France, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the Nazi conquest of the Balkans.
  2. Discuss the significance of theseevents, including their impact on British public opinion about their role in the war.
  3. Analyzes elected speeches delivered by Winston Churchill from this time period.
  4. Explain how the impact of the subject, word choice, and tone of the speeches on listeners in the United Kingdom led to stronger British resolve and willingness to continue to fight.
  5. Explain the reasons why Britain’s refusal to accommodate Hitler, either by surrender or armistice, was significant in the war.

IV. Background Information for the Teacher

Evacuation of Dunkirk and Fall of France: By early May 1940, Germany had conquered or absorbed Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, and Norway. Tremendous resources and entire populations had fallen under Hitler’s control, the blitzkrieg was both tactically successful and intimidating, and it was apparent that the Germans had the advantage in preparation, armor, and will to fight. When Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France in early May, the British assumed that the war would take on the appearance of the last war, with France and Belgium bearing the brunt of the fighting, aided by the British army in Europe and the British navy at sea.

However, the battle for France went poorly for the Allies. In late May Churchill made the decision to attempt to rescue the British Army trapped on the coast of France by the Germans. In what is known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk,” the bulk of the British army (more than 338,000 soldiers) was evacuated from Dunkirk in late May, many of them transported by British civilians who volunteered their watercraft and carried out operations in the midst of German aerial bombardments. Thus, the British army was saved to fight the Germans at a later date.

In June, stunned by the speed of the German advance, the French government agreed to an armistice with the Germans, opening the northern part of France to German occupation and setting up a collaborationist government in the south in the city of Vichy The Vichy government, led by Henri Philippe Pétain, ruled the southern part of France and all French colonies. The fall of France was a terrible blow to the British, because it meant that there were no other countries fighting Germany in Europe, and most French supplies, ships, and resources became German assets (to prevent this, the British actually attacked and sank several French naval vessels in the Mediterranean). The Germans then turned toward Britain.


Battle of the Atlantic: During the summer months, the British, seeing the “writing on the wall,” realized that they needed to acquire food and war goods as quickly as possible. These were shipped from North America across the Atlantic Ocean to Britain. German submarine commanders determined to sink as many of these supply ships as possible. The ongoing struggle of Allied ships to reach Britain in the face of German U-boat activities is known as the Battle of the Atlantic.

Battle of Britain and the Blitz: Although the Germans hoped to achieve an armistice with the British, they also had a plan for the invasion of Britain. This plan was known as Operation Sea Lion. Tactically, an invasion had to be preceded by the achievement of air superiority, because of the risk that an invasion force could be wiped out from the air as it landed on the shore. So in August, the Germans began massive bombing raids on Britain which attempted to destroy the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although they suffered losses, the British were able to make adjustments to protect their aircraft, pilots, and industry; and the RAF continued to meet German bombing raids. This led the Germans to change tactics. They began randomly bombing Britain in an attempt to destroy the British people’s will to resist. This culminated in the Blitz – a series of bombing raids on London in late 1940 – which resulted in significant loss of life and property. Eventually, the Germans realized that invasion was ill-advised (since they never wiped out the RAF), and they turned their attention elsewhere, although they continued to bomb Britain throughout the war.

Nazi Conquest of the Balkans: Hitler then proceeded with plans for an invasion of the Soviet Union, which commenced on June 22, 1941. His goals were to gain resources in Eastern Europe and to acquire land for the “living space” (Lebensraum) of his German people in the future. Prior to this invasion, Hitler decided to secure his right flank; so, in the spring of 1941, he ordered his troops to conquer the Balkan Peninsula. This they did, and by the summer, Hitler dominated all nations in Europe except for the few that were neutral (and generally compliant). These German acquisitions also brought resources to Germany, most notably the Ploesti oil fields of Romania.

Significance for Britain:
The months from May 1940 to June 1941 were the crucial months for the British in that they fought Germany alone, enduring continual struggle and difficulty while the German Empire grew in size and strength. The constant bad news was demoralizing, German aerial bombardments disrupted life in Britain, and the feeling of being without allies in Europe was both lonely and frightening. Based on this, it would have been understandable – even logical – for the British to work out some arrangement with the Germans that would take them out of the war. However, they did not do this. Knowing that they could not turn back the tide of Nazi aggression alone, the British nevertheless refused to surrender. They did what they could, held on, and hoped that one day soon the Americans would enter the war and help them to win it.


Churchill’s Speeches: It is argued that the leadership Winston Churchill was essential in bringing out this British spirit. Not only did he direct the government’s war effort, but he also made a series of speeches to the British people throughout the war. His primary communication with them was through direct broadcasts over the radio, although he also gave speeches in the House of Commons and other locations. He used his broadcasts to inform them of currents events, to frame these events in a larger context, to appeal to their pride as Britons by explaining to the people what it meant to be British, and to encourage them to live up to the higher ideals that would make victory possible. In essence, he emboldened the British to stand firm in face of the fact that their nation stood alone against Hitler. In this lesson, we will look at examples of these speeches.

Importance of Britain’s Refusal to Surrender:
It is important for students to understand that the simple fact that the British stayed in the war was terribly significant. One reason it is significant is that, during that year, the British were the only country fighting the Germans. Even though they were not fighting on the ground in Europe, their resistance in the Battle of Britain and on the seas was important in that it required the Germans to expend resources to fight them. Had the British gone “belly up,” so to speak, the Germans would have been able to use that year to focus entirely on armament and would have been much stronger. A second reason is that all later western Allied operations, including Operations Torch, Husky, Avalanche, and Overlord (D-Day) were launched from Britain. Had the British surrendered to the Germans, it would have eliminated Britain as a base for these operations, which would most likely have been launched from the United States. The added distance and increased risk would have made it much more difficult to open a second front against Germany, and the war would most likely have lasted longer. The fact that Churchill, through his leadership, was able to lead and inspire his nation through these difficult months is therefore of supreme importance.

V. Preparation for Teaching this Lesson

Review content for this lesson. Dividestudentsintogroups. Download speeches and photocopy speeches for distribution to the class. For book version, these speeches can be found in Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches, selected by his grandson, Winston S. Churchill, Hyperion, New York, 2003. The complete texts and audio excerpts of selected Churchill speeches may also be found on the website of The Churchill Centre:  The list of suggested speeches:

  • “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” May 13, 1940 pp. 203-206 (Churchill is Prime Minister – first speech to House of Commons)
  • “ Be Ye Men of Valour” May 19, 1940 pp. 206-210 (first broadcast to nation as Prime Minister)
  • “WeShallFightontheBeaches”(“WarsAreNotWonByEvacuations”) June 4, 1940 pp. 210-218 (Dunkirk Evacuation)
  • “The News From France Is Very Bad” June 17, 1940 pp. 218-219 (Imminent fall of France)
  • “Their Finest Hour” June 18, 1940 pp. 219-229 (after fall of France) For an analysis of this speech see His Speeches: How Churchill Did It
  • “The Few” August 20, 1940 pp. 237-248 (Battle of Britain) British lesson plan using an excerpt from this speech
  • “These Cruel, Wanton, Indiscriminate Bombings of London” September 11, 1940 pp. 250-253 (Battle of Britain)
  • “We Can Take It!” October 8, 1940 pp. 255-256 (Battle of Britain)
  •  “Give Us The Tools” February 9, 1941 pp. 259-262 (war situation and appeal to America regarding aid)
  • “Westward Look, the Land Is Bright” April 27, 1941 pp. 266-274 (war situation and appeal to America)
  • Optional: “Never Give In” October 29, 1941 pp. 306-307 L. Optional: “End of the War in Europe” May 8, 1945 pp. 387-390 M. Optional: “This Is Your Victory” May 8, 1945 pp. 390-391


It is important that the teacher study the speeches before assigning them. Some are only three or four pages, while others are about ten pages. The teacher may want to assign two of the shorter speeches to one group to make the length of the overall assignment equal, or to assign speeches by general subject, or to edit speeches and assign shorter versions, depending on available class time and students’ general ability to handle the text.

In the Audio Archive, find speeches by date. Speeches often have several “titles.” Many selections are excerpts only.


Vi.  Suggested Acxtivities

  1. Review content prior to May 10, 1940 as necessary.
  2. Lecture on material covering the period May10,1940 through June 21,1941. Focus on events from the sections titled “Background Information for the Teacher.” Teacher should ask questions to gauge student understanding.
  3. Inform students of their group assignment. Assign each group a speech, which should be read as homework.
  4. The next day in class, students will meet with the other members of their group. Each group will complete the handout (below) on speech content during class, and then report the relevant information to the class in chronological order of speech dates.
  5. Following student reports on the speeches, the teacher will hold a general class discussion of the speeches and their impact. The teacher can use this time to clarify students’ statements, ask questions to further student thinking, or provide more background information about a particular speech.
  • The overall goal of the discussion is to encourage students to think about how this speech would have been received by the British people at the time.
  • What effect would this speech have? What is important about it?
  • What words or subjects stand out here?
  • How did it contribute to the war effort?
  • What do you personally find inspiring?

Students should be encouraged to support their answers with direct quotes and references to speeches.

VII.    Assessment

  1. Student groups will turn in the handout for credit.
  2. Each studen twill write a short essay (1-2pages) on his o rher particular speech, identifying what components of the speech contributed to a different “feeling” in Britain.  Topic: As we discussed, it is argued that the rhetoric of Winston Churchill was essential in bringing out a resolute British spirit, committed to continuing the fight against Hitler in the face of great odds. In an essay, explain how Churchill strove to promote this “spirit” in the speech you read. You may comment on the subject, word choice, and tone and should use specific lines from the speech in your essay. (You are also free to use your favorite quotes and explain why you like them!).
    Content from this assignment could be included on the unit test.
  3. Extra credit can be offered to those students who memorize selections from speeches.


Teaching and Learning about Iran

"Layers" by Iranian artist Shahla Habibi


Contemporary Art

There is a section in Seda, Contemporary Iranian Art, which presents a number of modern paintings and sculpture.  The activities below can be used when viewing and working with the pieces.

Taking a Look

  • It has been said that the average amount of time a person views a piece of art in a museum is 30 seconds.  Select a piece of art and look at it for approximately 30 seconds. 
  • Turn away from the art and jot down what you remember: form, colors, feelings, mood/emotions evoked.
  • Return to looking at the piece.  Note what you didn't see the first time you viewed the piece. 
  • Determine what questions you may have about the piece.  What questions does it pose for you? 
  • Lead a discussion with others about the piece starting out with your thoughts and feeling about it.



Cartoons make us think, connect things in new ways, invite us to see below the surface of the cartoon, relate what we see to what we know and feel.  There are a number of cartoons offered in Seda.  Explore the meaning and impact of these works by doing the following:

  • Write a detailed description of what issue the cartoon is addressing.
  • Use a cartoon to brainstorm a topic related vocabulary.
  • Exploring the theme of humour by exploring: What does the cartoon mean? Why is it funny?  What techniques are used to make it funny?
  • Use a selection of cartoons to discuss the different parts of an issue.
  • State why you agree or disagree with the cartoonists opinion.


Persian Poetry

Background Information. Rumi’s poems and the famous Rubaiyyat by Omar Khayyam follow the centuries old, classical Arabic poetry structures.  A rubayat is organized in quatrains.  It has a rhyme scheme across four lines that may take the form AABA, or ABAB, or ABBA, etc.  The root of the word ruba’i means four.  The Persian form of a rubayat is organized in two lines instead of four, with rhyming occurring in the middle and the end of each line as a consequence.  Edward FitzGerald made the first translation into English of Khayyam’s Rubaiyyat, thus introducing the quatrain structure into English poetry.  The ghazal is an ode and consists of rhyming couplets and a refrain.  After reading examples from Rumi or Omar Khayyam, have students write their own ruba’i or ghazal on a topic of their own choosing.

Source: World Savvy Monitor



Proverb Definitions.  Proverbs are popular sayings which contain advice or state a generally accepted truth. Because most proverbs have their origins in oral tradition, they are generally worded in such a way as to be remembered easily and tend to change little from generation to generation, so much so that sometimes their specific meaning is no longer relevant. For instance, the proverb “penny wise, pound foolish” is a holdover from when America was a British colony and used the pound as currency. Proverbs function as “folk wisdom,” general advice about how to act and live. And because they are folk wisdom, they are often strongly reflect the cultural values and physical environment from which they arise. For instance, island cultures such as Hawaii have proverbs about the sea, Eastern cultures have proverbs about elephants, and American proverbs, many collected and published by Benjamin Franklin, are about hard work bringing success. Proverbs are used to support arguments, to provide lessons and instruction, and to stress shared values.

Proverbs are not Clichés.  Clichés are widely used, even overused, phrases that are often metaphorical in nature. Clichés often have their origins in literature, television, or movies rather than in folk tradition.  Some examples of clichés are: She was white as a sheet, the tension was so thick you could cut it like butter, he stood as still as a deer in the headlights, I’m as fit as a fiddle, you could read her like an open book.

Some Common Features of Proverbs

  • Proverbs are passed down through time with little change in form.
  • Proverbs are often used metaphorically and it is in understanding their metaphorical nature that we can unravel their meaning. While “a stitch in time saves nine,” “don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched,” and “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” are common proverbs, few of us stitch clothes, count chickens, or throw out bathwater.
  • Proverbs often make use of grammatical and rhetorical devices that help make them memorable, including alliteration, rhyme, parallel structure, repetition of key words or phrases, and strong imagery.

Questions for Working with Proverbs

  1. What do you think the proverb means?
  2. Why do you think these proverbs are referred to as “common?”
  3. Do you know proverbs from other countries that are similar to proverbs from Iran?  If so, what are they?  How are they similar?
  4. Which proverbs are more difficult to understand?  Why are they difficult?
  5. What general statements can be made about Iran after having reflected on these proverbs?

Source:  Read Write Think NCTE/IRA.  Reproduced for educational purposes.


Social Studies

Most Americasn know little about Iran or its relationship with the U.S. and other countries since the end of World War II. Several possible subjects for independent and small-group inquiry are listed below.

Prepare two or three questions about a subject from the list below. Present the questions to your group.  Decide on which subjects you want to conduct further research.  Use the timeline in Seda to help inform your choices.

  • The origins of Shi'ism
  • The 20th century origins of Iran
  • Iran's relationship with Sunni-led Middle Eastern countries
  • The Mossadegh government
  • The CIA plot to overthrow Mossadegh
  • The rule of Shah Pahlavi
  • The 1978-1979 revolution
  • The 1979-1980 hostage crisis
  • U.S. support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq's war with Iran
  • Iran's 2001 support for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
  • Iran's oil wealth
  • Iran's nuclear program
  • Divisions among Iranian leaders today
  • Iran's women
  • Presidential candidates' views of U.S. policy on Iran
  • U.S. overthrow of the 1953 Iranian government
  • U.S. support for the Shah
  • 1979 Iranian revolution
  • 1979-1981 hostage crisis
  • U.S. support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war
  • Hezbollah
  • Hamas
  • Iraq-Iran relationship
  • Israel-Iran relationship
  • Nuclear weapons issues raised by the readings

This lesson was written for TeachableMoment.Org, a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. Please email author Alan Shapiro at:

Voices of Many--Quotes from World War II


Activities: Reacting to the Words of Others


The following pages offer a wide range of quotes that relate to World War II.  Often quotes can be very sobering.  Most quotes are words taken out of context.  At times, the true meaning can be altered slightly when this happens.  Nonetheless, the words that get quoted have a power to them, a meaning from someone’s perspective and often hold a key to deeper thoughts about an issue.  The quotes provided in this section come from leaders, warriors and politicians representing a wide range of countries that participated in WW II.  Most quotes date back to the war directly, others precede the first invasions and battles, and a few were made in the aftermath of the war.  There are a number of activities suggested below for using quotes as you explore your study of WW II.


  • Create a Commonplace Book.  Commonplace Books have their origin in the Renaissance as one means of coping with the information overload of that era. They helped people select, organize, classify, and remember key moral precepts.  Today Commonplace Books are used to record reflections, ideas, and information that need to be experienced and remembered.  Select a number of thoughts, excerpts and quotes from the following pages and write your own reflections for each.  Consider illustrating your reflections with photographs, posters, paintings, or political cartoons.  Even better, create your own illustrations.
  • Write a poem.  Select several quotes that specifically speak to you.  Consider why they spark an emotion or provide an insight to you.  Create a poem that results from your pondering the quote(s).  You may want to incorporate the quote into your poem.
  • Create a biography.  Select a quote or quotes from one individual presented in this section.  Research his/her life and add the quotes to support your own writing of this person.  There are several individuals who have made their mark in history and whose names are recognizable.  However, you might elect to challenge yourself to select an unknown name and find out about his/her life.
  • Write a personal statement on war.  Read through all of the quotes in this section.  Reflect on what you’ve read, how different you may feel from some of the quotes, or how you may agree with others.  Proceed to write a statement on how you feel about war generally.  Include quotes in your statement.
  • Design posters.  Select one or more of the quotes and design a poster that can be used to convey a message you want to share with others.  The design can be to commemorate an event or can be used to compare your thoughts on the link between World War II and current events.
  • Reader’s Theater.  Use this material to either create a reader’s theater or to incorporate the thoughts, excerpts and quotes into a single production. Similar to a play, a reader’s theater has a number of parts and can involve staging and music.  Scenery is basic, if any is used.  Often the stage is dark and a narrator introduces the script.  A reader’s theater can be written by an individual or several people can work on it simultaneously.  Research can be conducted on an event that originates in World War II.  Write descriptive paragraphs on the theme.  Combine the historical events with poetry and other writings found in Module One and make use of the quotes.  The narrative script is written to weave the entire production together.  Other themes may be a play written from one country’s perspective, through the eyes of a warrior, expressions of feelings from individuals misplaced by the war, or thoughts expressed by those who remained on the home front.  There can be a number of different roles written into the piece.  A single voice or two could be used to describe events, and different parts can be given to those who read poetry, excerpts from diaries, or quotes.  Often the narrator’s role is the most substantial. 
  • Staging multiple productions.  Several Reader’s Theaters could be written and staged during a commemorative event that includes poetry and other writings, the culmination of studying about a particular war, or as an event that looks at war generally or as a global phenomenon.  Don’t forget to create a playbill announcing your Reader’s Theater event.  A program booklet complete with background on the presentation and the actors can also be prepared.


Thoughts, Short Excerpts and Quotes

Below are a series of thoughts, short excerpts, and quotes that come from those directly involved, influenced, and affected by the Korean War.  In some cases, the passages are taken out of context, but the message still remains. In other cases, the words fit the moment. A list of possible activities to experience using this section follows.

Activities: Reacting to the Words of Others

  1. Research the individual who made the statement.   Many statements are made by political figures and others made by individuals who may not be as familiar to the reader. Find out more about the individual to whom the statement was attributed.

  2. Create a commonplace book. Commonplace books have their origin in the Renaissance as one means of coping with the information overload of that era. They helped people select, organize, classify, and remember key moral precepts. Today Commonplace Books are used to record reflections, ideas, and information that need to be experienced and remembered.  Select a number of thoughts, excerpts and quotes from the following pages and write your own reflections for each. Consider illustrating your reflections with photographs, posters, paintings, or political cartoons. Or, better yet, create your own illustrations.

  3. Design posters. Select one or more of the quotes and design a poster that can be used to convey a message you want to give to others. The design can be to commemorate the Korean War or can be used to support your concern about current events.

  4. Use statements to augment the creation of an illustrated timeline.

  5. Research the Maginot Line. This military line is referred to in the quote from Robert Leckie’s book, Conflict: The History of the Korean War.

  6. Create a Reader’s Theater. Similar to a play, a reader’s theater has a number of parts and can involve staging and music. Scenery is basic, if any is used. Often the stage is dark and a narrator introduces the script. A reader’s theater can be written by an individual or several people can work on it simultaneously. There are a number of themes that relate to the Korean War that would lend themselves practically for a reader’s theater. For example, research several key events in each of the years. Write descriptive paragraphs on each. Combine the historical events with poetry and other writings found in this module, including quotes. The narrative script is written to weave the entire production together. Other themes may be a play written from one country’s perspective, through the eyes of a warrior, expressions of feelings from individuals displaced by the war, or thoughts expressed by those who remained on the home front. There can be a number of different roles written into the piece. A single voice or two could be used to describe events, and different parts can be given to those who read poetry, excerpts from diaries, or quotes. Often the narrator’s role is the most substantial. 


  Harry Truman and General MacArthur

If there is any necessity for Congressional action, I will come to you. But I hope we can get those bandits in Korea suppressed without that.

President Harry S. Truman, to members of Congress, June 30, 1950


A month or so before this we had undergone an ordnance inspection and half of our rifles were condemned. They were all left over from World War II, retrieved from Okinawa, or places like that. The same went for the mortars and machine guns. I don't remember ever seeing anything new.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Jack Doody, sent to Korea with Task Force Smith on June 30, 1950


We thought the North Koreans would back off once they saw American uniforms.

Phil Day, Task Force Smith

United States M.A.S.H. Unit

My God, maybe there's a real war going on!

Unknown wounded American Soldier


We have a little action up here. All we need is some men who won't run when they see tanks. We're going to move you up to support the ROKs [Republic of Korea soldiers] and give them moral support.

U.S. Army Brigadier General John H. Churchto, the commander of Task Force Smith


The seat in Hell closest to the fire is reserved for those who knew this but kept it quiet.

2nd Lieutenant Ollie Conner, Task Force Smith,
on the inability of 2.36-inch bazooka rockets to penetrate Soviet-made tank armor


In May of 1945 the U.S. Army had reached its peak of 8,290,000 men (including, of course, the Army Air Force). Five years later, by the summer of 1950, it had dwindled to 592,000 men or about 7 percent of its former strength. Even at the time of Pearl Harbor, usually regarded as the classic example of American unpreparedness, the Army had 1,600,000 men under arms. Worse, this 1950 army of 592,000 men was top heavy with technicians and service people, for the Maginot Line mentality had produced the myth of the push-button war and so downgraded the foot soldier.

In all this army there were only ten combat divisions, plus the equivalent of one more in the European Constabulary, and perhaps the equivalent of another three in nine independent regimental combat teams—an optimistic total, in all, of fourteen divisions of which only the Constabulary was up to strength.

Of these forces, four divisions were in Japan under General MacArthur. . . . They were at about 70 percent of wartime strength . . . [and] deficient in such modern arms as 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifles, 4.2-inch mortars and 3.5-inch rocket launchers.

Robert Leckie, "Conflict: The History of The Korean War"

Marines Watching Guard at Cemetery at Hamhung, Korea, 1950

The time has come when Uncle Sam must put up or shut up, and my guess is it will do neither.

A Washington ambassador cabling skepticism tohis government
three days after North Korea invaded South Korea.


The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong enemy.

General Omar Bradley on General MacArthur's proposal
to carry the Korean Conflict into China, May 1951


[Korea is] the clearest test case that the United Nations has ever faced. If the United Nations is ever going to do anything, this is the time, and if the United Nations cannot bring the crisis in Korea to an end, then we might as well wash up the United Nations and forget it.

Senator Tom Connally, of Texas, summing up Congressional opinion of the Korean crisis
three days after the invasion.


I'm more worried about other parts of the world. The Middle East, for instance. [Iran] is where they will start trouble if we aren't careful.

Korea is the Greece of the Far East. If we are tough enough now, if we stand up to them like we did in Greece three years ago, they won't take any next steps. But if we just stand by, they'll move into Iran and they'll take over the whole Middle East. There's no telling what they'll do, if we don't put up a fight now.

President Harry S. Truman, two days after the invasion

Harbor at Inchon, 1950

Military medicine is a well conceived, well advised, and well established device, system, or mechanism, the mission of which is to provide the Armed Services with a quality or brand of medical coverage that is not only essential to the proper and efficient function of the military but is moreover essential to the best interests of the individual and of the national welfare.

One would need only to go to Korea, as I have been during the past two summers, and there observe the manner of living and of the activity being engaged in by medical personnel serving with the combatants in the theater of war. One would not need to remain long there to appreciate the essentiality of service doctors being psychologically agile, emotionally stable, professionally genuine, and physically able and tough.

Since when has the doctor of medicine and dentistry become such a pantywaist as to require that a bald responsibility others accept with good grace must be diked out with certain frills before he will buy it.

During my sojourn at the combatant front in Korea this past summer I failed to detect evidence of any special effort being made on the part of anyone to make the service more attractive to the soldiers and Marines who were fighting, bleeding, and dying in the heat and dust on a barren Korean hillside.

The manner of man requisite to filling the bill that needs to be filled by the Medical and Dental Corps of the Armed Services is an individual who to himself clearly realizes that it is a privilege and not a penalty to serve in a uniform of his national defense establishment, that it is his establishment and his nation for the defense of which the establishment exists and that he may be no more honorably distinguished than by wearing that uniform, and that by abhorring ignoble ease he can perform no more worthy mission than that of protecting and restoring the most priceless element, that of health, in our most precious national resource, the men and women who comprise the Armed Forces.

Rear Admiral Lamont Pugh, Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, in an address before the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, November 17, 1952


American imperialists are very arrogant, they are very unreasonable whenever they can get away with it, if they became a little bit reasonable, it was because they had no other choice.

 Comment made by Chairman Mao after the Korean War

Poetry by Women About Women

Phenomenal Woman

Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.



The Laughter of Women

Lisel Mueller

The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness

It rattles the Chambers of Congress

and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out

The laughter of women wipes the mist

from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again

Prisoners held in underground cells

imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women

It runs across water that divides,

and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other

What a language it is, the laughter of women,

high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.


The Sad Mother

Gabriela Mistral

Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
without worry, without fear,
although my soul does not sleep,
although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep, and in the night
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass,
or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling.
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep.


The Journey

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice - - -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
'Mend my life!'
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations - - -
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do - - - determined to save
the only life you could save.

I'm nobody! Who are you?

Emily Dickinson

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!


My Mother

Mamta G. Sagar

She lifts her head and looks up,
the skies light up entirely;
the clouds float in her eyes.

When her eyes are shut,
the skies grow all dark,
clouds break, and all over,
the spate of sadness.




Women in Poetry

Poets from the American Academy of Poets have a wonderful lesson on working with women in poetry written by New York Public School Teacher, Carolyn Kohli. The link to the website and Ms. Kohli’s complete six week unit follows the learning objectives. In the unit students are introduced to a broad range of women's voices in poetry. Students develop a poetic and technological vocabulary simultaneously through a series of creative and critical writing exercises and Internet research and citation. "Women in Poetry" primarily explores contemporary poetry with themes as diverse as "Entering the Darkness Out of Childhood," "Voices of the Mothers," "The Body Electric," and "Ars Poetica". Each thematic set of lessons requires students to practice basic skills in Microsoft Word and on the Internet, responding to each poem grouping with information obtained in web research and their own creative and critical responses.  

Learning Objectives

By the end of this unit students will be able to:

  • Describe the traditional roles of women/received cultural stereotypes and find them expressed in poetry by women.
  • Describe the ways women poets belie stereotypes in their poetry and voice.
  • Recognize and describe voice and tone in a variety of poems by women.
  • Characterize poetry written by women as having a distinct point of view, but as concerning itself with the breadth of human experience.
  • Develop a vocabulary and ideas for writing and talking about poetry written by women.
  • Do a close reading of two poems they have not read with the teacher and write about their understanding of that poem in a brief, lucid essay.
  • Write one brief essay (300-500 words) arguing for or against a reading (Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room").
  • Write one brief essay (300-500 words) comparing two poets (Emily Dickinson and Gwendolyn Brooks).
  • Write two personal responses (250-400 words), one on our visiting poet, one on two student poems read during workshop.
  • Discuss several key elements of poetry, including voice, the speaker as persona created by the poet, autobiography in poetry, and several poetic techniques (line length, enjambment, anaphora, sound devices, metaphor).
  • Read criticism through links at The Academy of American Poets website.
  • View and discuss a video clip of a high school student reciting Emily Dickinson's "I'm Nobody! Who are You?" as an expression of the importance of poetry in general and the impact of Dickinson in particular over 100 years after her death.
  • Write three poems modeled after or inspired by several read in class.
  • Read one original poem aloud for responses in a workshop setting.
  • Include one original poem on the web page.
  • Write three very brief essays for the web page.
  • Learn and practice techniques for creating a web page, including copying and pasting photographs and art, creating hyperlinks, researching poets' lives and works on the internet.
  • Create a web page as a final project.
For the complete lesson plan and appropriate links go to Poets from the American Academy of Poets:


Inaugural Addresses and Presidential Poetry

Working with Inauguration Speeches

President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inauguration Day

 Since the inauguration of our first president, George Washington, U.S. presidents have begun their presidency by taking the oath of office and addressing the nation. Many of the speeches given have offered challenges to our citizens, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” (John F. Kennedy),  set the standard for the nation, “…[A] free people must choose to shape the forces of the information age and the global society, to unleash the limitless potential of all our people, and form a more perfect union,” (William J. Clinton) and offered advice on how to confront problems of the times, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

On the following pages are several inaugural speeches. Work with one or more to complete the list of activities outlined below. Use the suggested websites to research additional speeches. 

  • Review several speeches to determine how presidents put forth their agenda for their administrations.
  • Read through the inauguration addresses to see how presidents consider the historical moments in front of them. How do they present what needs to be done and how they will go about doing it?
  • What challenges have been put forth for the American people in the speeches you have selected?
  • How do presidents address the mood of the nation in their speeches?
  • After reading one or two speeches, write your own inaugural address for this current period of history or select another time in U.S. history.
  • Discuss the important aspects of President Obama’s speech. Use the internet to obtain some of his campaign speeches and see how his inauguration speech addresses some of the points he talked about throughout his campaign. Has he addressed other concerns? What challenges has he put forth for the American people?
  • Select another presidential speech and compare it with the address given by President Obama. How are they the same? How are they different? How different are the set of issues faced by your selection with those issues being faced by President Obama.
  • Research and make a collection of presidential quotes offered in inaugural speeches.
  • The 20th Amendment of the Constitution stipulates the date of transfer from one president to another. Read the amendment. Research how transfer of power is observed in other countries.
  • Read through the excerpts from several inaugural speeches that follow. Choose one excerpt and conduct research on the events of the time and write an essay on the political, social and economic conditions of the time and note how the president addressed the issues of the day.


Suggested Questions & Activities

  1. Ask students how they would define "Populism" and ask them how they imagine the "common good." (One definition of many is that Populism refers to a social or grassroots movement of common people—farmers, workers, etc—who organize in order to achieve a shared goal of social equality and see that inequality of wealth and power is a barrier to their goal.)
  2. Generate a lively discussion of today's leaders, heroes and heroines. Find out who the students recognize as individuals or groups they think are participating actively in creating space for more people to experience a better life. Emphasize that such groups or individuals are always recognized for their active engagement—bringing a vision of a better world into action toward the greater good for everyone. (some examples of individuals who have used a great deal of vision, imagination, activism (and money) to contribute might be NBA's illustrious Magic Johnson, who has created a non-profit organization for promoting health, social, and educational well-being for urban youth or major league all star pitcher Jamie Moyer, who has devoted his huge financial resources to creating a foundation to serve the needs of children in severe distress—suffering from life threatening illnesses or physical limitations, children coping with the loss of loved ones, and children who are victims of abuse and neglect).
  3. Ask students how many of them are familiar with the history of civil liberties in America including the readings in this packet and frame a discussion about what groups have been extended their full civil liberties and what groups are still struggling for them. The main point of these documents is that democracy is always changing and that flexible fertile minds, hearts and imaginations with plenty of commitment and courage are required to keep a democracy healthy and responsive to the needs of the people.
  4. Choose one or two of the quotes and discuss. Focus on Populism as part of the profound ideas that came from "the bottom up" from the will of the people—that when the constitution was formed, it was indeed a populist document that came about because ordinary people did not want to give up their self governance, and yet their magnificent vision was also extremely limited because it did not extend equal rights, for instance slavery was upheld and women were not allowed to vote.

Suggestions for In-class Writing Activities

Ask students to work in groups of four and give them one of the following writing assignments:

  1. You are a group of speech writers creating a speech for one of the presidential candidates. He is preparing to present a speech to a large and diverse audience of the newest voters in America, those who have turned 18 since the last presidential election in 2004. Create an outline for a speech which will inspire young people to vote for your candidate because you have been able to address at least five of their main issues and concerns AND outline a proposal for how your candidate plans to integrate young people into his new programs for activism, community service and participatory democracy. As you list the main points of the speech, call upon your spirit of populism and the creativity and vision of each of your group members. (Examples of issues concerning youth might be economic empowerment, reproductive rights, affordable college tuition, good jobs for fair pay, the climate change crisis, the security of counting on a peaceful future, the dream of a better country and world.)
  2. Working individually or with a partner, create your own DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE Or BILL OF RIGHTS. Be sure to address at least three issues that are at stake in the upcoming Presidential election as you create your new document. Keep in mind what things you think the greatest number of common people need for a better life as you write your new Declaration or Bill of Rights.
  3. Individually, respond in writing to the quote by Jim Hightower and write about what you think America needs you to stand up for right now at this historic moment of a Presidential election in which for the first time an African American and a woman are candidates for the highest and the second highest office in the land.

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