activities

Truth: Curriculum Ideas

General Activities

Each of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits contain a quote.  That quote, and in most cases, additional quotes voiced by the individual being portrayed, are found on their page, along with their biography.  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.  There are a number of activities suggested below for using the quotes as you explore your study of Americans Who Tell the Truth.

  • 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.
  • Moment of truth. A group of portrait subjects were asked to write about their “Moment of Truth” in making the choice to move from concern to courage to compassionate action. These statements are located below and were written by the subjects and directed to students.  Select a statement, reflect on it, and write your own statement back to the person indicating how you responded to it, and how it might change the way you think and will act in the future.
  • Designing Your Own Americans Who Tell the Truth.  Robert Shetterly tells us that:  “It's very hard to choose the subjects for the portraits. For each one I include, I have to leave out many more. For instance, I could have painted the entire series honoring people who have been influential in the struggle for civil rights or  in protecting  the environment. I choose representatives --- some well known, and some, purposely, little known. So, each person becomes a metaphor for a thousand others, a model of courage and persistence whose life and work may affect a large or small community.  I am often asked,  half-jokingly, when I tell people I am painting portraits of Americans Who Tell the Truth, "Where do you find them? I didn't know there were any." The problem is not finding them, the problem is selecting from the millions of worthy subjects. In fact, any one of you could begin this project on your own, in your own neighborhood, and find just as many people to honor as I have. What's so exciting is that in the process of finding truthtellers, you learn what it means to be a good citizen. You then become a teacher and model for others."

Consider people in your community or state that should be acknowledged as "truth tellers."  Interview them and create a portrait, collage or sculpture  for each person selected.  Design your own exhibition and opening.

 

  • Discussion Group on War.  As part of a class or as a separate project start a discussion group on war and peace.  The questions listed below are offered as guidelines for exploration. Incorporate poetry, narrative or even discussions on selections of art or music.  Use the Voices website to explore possible options.   
  1. What is your personal experience with political violence in the form of war?
  2.  In small groups, generate a list of the positive outcomes obtained through war? What is good about war? What lessons have been learned war?  Create the same task by listing negative outcomes obtained through war and the lessons learned.
  3.  What wars do you know about ? Make a list.  Form groups to research the origins and causes of the wars. When you look at all of these, what things do you find in common? What things are different?
  4.  Now take those same wars and investigate the outcomes of the war. What changed as a result of the war? Report back on those and make the same comparisons and contrasts. What do they have in common and what is different?
  5.  Brainstorm a list of words that come to mind when one hears the word war. Now do the same when one hears the word peace. Create visual representations of those using collage or some other art form and hang these. Discuss the different feelings each evokes.
  6.  Make a list of questions you have about war, countries involved in wars and peacemaking efforts.
  7.  What do you know about how peace is made? How do wars come to an end?
  8.  Research and make a list of the wars/ violent political conflicts going on in the world now. What are these conflicts about?
  9.  What impact do wars have on the lives of the children in those places? (Be sure to include an understanding of the issue of “child soldiers. See Voices education packet on The World's Ten Worst Danger Spots: http://www.voiceseducation.org/content/worlds-ten-worst-child-danger-spots-0 and The Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.voiceseducation.org/content/convention-rights-child).
  10.  What happens to women in communities impacted by war and political conflicts resulting in violence?
  11. What are the problems we have today in our world based upon outcomes of previous wars?
  12. Research the economic implications of war. What things are “bought and sold” as a result of war and the establishment of military presence in our country? How many companies can you find when researching these items? How many agencies and employees are in place related to our country’s involvement in military activity?
  13. What is the amount of the military budget for our country?
  14.  Create a list of vocabulary words related to political violence and describe their meaning.
  15.  What standards does our country have for making decisions about which violent political conflicts to involve ourselves?
  16. What is a political prisoner and what role have well known political prisoners played in conflicts?
  17. What do we mean by the phrase, “tools of war?” What is the role of spying, secret investigations, torture and other mechanisms that are the tools of war?
  18. Research heroic efforts made by individuals during wars. What sort of person is a hero during war?
  19. What efforts have citizens of our country made to end wars? What made them successful? What can a citizen of our country do if she does not support a war that our country is involved in?
  20. What is “terrorism?” What are the beliefs you have about “terrorists?”  Research those to determine how accurate they are.
  21. What medical and other conditions result for soldiers who have gone to war? How are these needs met? What impact does war have on the families of soldiers?
  22. What is the “language of war” that permeates our culture? For several days, keep a running record of these and share your findings as a group. Where did you find the most examples of    these? Be sure to include all media forms: radio, television, print , computer.
  23. What is the impact of war on the environment? Animals, plant life, air and water quality and more are effected. In what ways?
  24. What is genocide? How do we determine genocidal activity? What role has it played in the wars and conflicts we have seen historically?
  25.  What is the human being’s relationship to committing acts of violence and genocide in times of war? There are many studies done on this , most notably, ”The Lucifer Effect”  by Phillip Zimbardo. What are the implications of this study?
  26. Write a statement that represents your views on war or violence associated with political conflict now that you have made this in-depth study.

 

Individual Activities 

 

Jane Addams

Jane Addams during her life was labeled "the most dangerous woman in America."  Work with excerpts from Jane Addams speeches and writings. 
 
During her time, Jane Addams was criticized for her writings and stance against war.  Read criticism waged against her and reflect on articles written about her.
 
Jane Addams work at Hull House in Chicago was significant for the development of many social and civic causes.  Explore some of the highlights of Jane Addams Hull House community and meet some of the Hull House Associates who helped make significant social service changes that are still prominient to this day.
 
 
 

Muhummad Ali

Moment of Truth

Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here..... If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years.

 

Wendall Berry

Discuss the role each of us plays in peacemaking by reflecting on this poem by Wendall Barry.

Now you know the worst

we humans have to know

about ourselves, and I am sorry.

For I know that you will be afraid.

To those of our bodies given

Without pity to be burned, I know

There is no answer

But loving one another,

Even our enemies,

And that is hard.

But I remember:

When a person of war becomes a  person of peace,

He gives a light divine, though it is also human.

When a person of peace is killed by a person of war,

He also gives light.

You do not have to walk in darkness,

If you will have the courage for love,

You may walk in light.

It will be the light of those who have suffered for peace.

It will be your light.

 

Grace Lee Boggs

Moment of Truth

I was born female 94 years ago to immigrant parents above my father’s Chinese American restaurant in Providence, R.I. My mother could not read or write because there were no schools for females in her little Chinese village. When I cried, the waiters said, “Leave her on the hillside to die; she’s only a girl.” That’s how I learned early on about living for change.

At 20 I studied the Phenomenology of Mind by Hegel, the German philosopher, and discovered that history is the story of the continuing struggle by human beings to make the Ideal real and the Real ideal. Hegel, a teenager when the French Revolution began, experienced the contradictions that emerged during the Revolution and out of that experience realized that what we call “Freedom” can only be achieved “through the labor, patience and suffering of the negative."

It was 1935 and I was much too young to appreciate what this meant. But I read and re-read it because, like the symphonies of Beethoven, who was born the same year as Hegel, it challenged me to grow my soul.

In 1975 The Modern World System by Immanuel Wallerstein gave me a sense of the centuries of catastrophes and struggles that went into the decline of feudalism and the emergence of capitalism.

In the last 25 years my life has centered around the movement to rebuild, redefine and respirit a de-industrialized Detroit from the ground up. Because Detroit is so devastated, it is a city where you sink into despair or embrace the conviction that, as human beings, we have the power within us to build the world anew.

 

Norm Chomsky

Moment of Truth

My political awareness begins with my earliest memories during the Depression -- pathetic people coming to the door to try to sell rags, riding on a trolley car with my mother past a strike at a textile plant and watching security forces beat women strikers, sensing the dark clouds of fascism spread over Europe, and a lot more.  There was no defining moment.  Just no alternative.

 

Dorothy Day

Research and Discussion Activities

Dorothy Day was a remarkable woman in many ways and her essential statement about taking the easy way out when confronting matters of injustice seems even more important today.

  • Read Dorothy Day's quote and reflect on your own life, and the lives of people in our country?  
  • How are we as a culture playing it “safe?” and in what ways will that cost us in the future?
  • Create a drawing, painting, poem, or some artistic expression of what your own life or the culture’s life would look like if we did NOT play it safe. Note the changes and discuss them in depth.
  • Discuss what acts are needed when deciding to no longer play it safe. What do I do if I want to take a risk?
  • How might Thoreau's ideas of civil disobedience or Kathy Kelly's stance on raising one's voice and acting non-violently help us to bring about change? 
 


Doris Granny D. Haddock

At the age of 90 years, Doris Granny D Haddock walked 3,200 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D. C.  She walked as a Pilgrim walking until given shelter for the night, fasting until given food. She never lacked for a bed, or a meal during the 14th months of her trip from 1/1/1999 to 2/29/2000. As the great-grandmother of 16 children she believed they, and all the children of America, needed a better legacy than we have to give them. Her fore-fathers left her generation a Democracy and our generation needs to leave a Democracy for our children. Public funding of elections would do that. Since the walk she ran for the U. S. Senate. Since her run for office she has visited states working for public funding of elections at the state level, and works in New Hampshire for such a bill .Her book. "You Are Never too Old to Raise a Little Hell" has become popular in High School civic classes. She hopes to publish a book she has co-authored with Dennis Bourke  on her 100th birthday,"The Century of a Bohemian."

 

Richard Grossman

Moment of Truth

At college in New York City in the early 1960s, I became conscious of gaps between adult decrees and my sense of the world. Living in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer, then working with adult students in USA inner cities, I began learning how to learn.        

My epiphany was a smoldering anxiety that by the late 1980s was choking me with accusations: Why has persistent organizing by courageous people failed to end corporate+government assaults and denials of rights? Why haven’t people’s struggles led to sane transitions in energy, agriculture, finance, health, peace...? To self-governance? Why is a small corporate class always organized, while dissed and denied majorities scrape together campaigns against relentless corporate invasions and usurpations ? How much of the “history” we’ve been trained to regurgitate is not people’s history? Not Earth’s history?      

To engage people in the need to end obedience to tyrants of yesteryear, I helped create “Stop the Poisoning Schools,” “Rethinking the Corporation, Rethinking Strategy Schools,” “Democracy Schools.”       

 Critics from corporate, law and academic worlds dismissed me as impertinent. Friends and colleagues lamented I had gone unrealistic. But the schools and my agitations continue to spark creative challenges to minority-rule canons of governance and culture.

 

Jim Harney

Moment of Truth

When I left El Salvador, I knew I had to go back.  The people told me over and over that it was my responsibility to tell everyone in my country what was happening down there.  It was for me the first time I understood the meaning of 'vocation', in the sense of a call from the people.

The impoverished that I met over the years prevented my heart from going into a world of silence which would have meant my own death.  With them in mind I gained voice; took to put my thoughts on paper, ditched the passive voice and opted for the active.  They became the subjects as I developed a bias to think and act from their perspective.  Everything changed for me when this happened.  I have so much to give thanks for.

 

 

Chris Hedges

Moment of Truth

My father was a Presbyterian minister in a small farming community in upstate New York. He was an early and vocal supporter of the civil rights movement at a time when Dr. Martin Luther King was, in rural white enclaves like ours, one of the most hated men in America. He opposed, although a veteran of World War II, the Vietnam War and told me when I was about 12 that if the war was still being fought when I was 18 and I was drafted he would go to jail with me. To this day I have an image of sitting in a jail cell with my Dad. Finally, he was a public supporter of the gay rights movement calling for the marriage and ordination of gays. His youngest brother, my uncle, was gay and my father had a particular sensitivity to the pain of being a gay man in America in the 1950s and 1960s. When I attended Colgate University there was no gay and lesbian organization. My father, who by that time had a church in Syracuse, brought gay speakers to the campus. This led, after several meetings, to students confiding in my Dad that they were uncomfortable coming out of the closet to form a gay and lesbian alliance. This was a problem my Dad solved by driving down one day, taking me to lunch and telling me, although I was not gay, that I had to found it. So I founded the gay and lesbian alliance at the university, although I never attended. When I would walk into the dining hall for meals the checker would take my card, check off the appropriate box and hand it back to me saying “faggot.” I made it my undergraduate mission to seduce his girlfriend.       

I have always sought to meet the moral and ethical standards my father set. He remains an invisible witness to every action I undertake. Seven years after he had died in 2002 I was called into the office of The New York Times. I had been speaking openly against the Iraq war and the paper issued me a written reprimand telling me that if I did not cease speaking out against the war I would be fired. It was not an easy moment. I had spent nearly fifteen years at the paper, including time as the paper’s Middle East Bureau Chief. I faced a choice. I could comply with the paper’s demand and pay fealty to my career, but to do so would mean betraying my Dad. This betrayal was something I could not do. As I left the building, knowing my time at the paper was finished, I realized that the greatest gift my father had given me was freedom.          

Other Activities on Chris Hedges

While filming the documentary, Voices in Wartime, Voices' had an opportunity to have a number of extended conversations with Chris Hedges.  In the link below there are excerpts from the film portions in which Mr. Hedges is featured.  There are also segments of text from seven conversations in which the reader can explore topics related to combat, war, death and human nature:

  1. Glorification of Death
  2. Experience of Combat
  3. Chris Hedges' Personal Combat Experience
  4. The Press and the Myth of War
  5. How War Isolates Societies and Hijacks Language
  6. Human Nature and War
  7. Unconventional Warfare and the Role of Civilians

Link to: http://www.voiceseducation.org/content/chris-hedges

 

Maja Kazazic

Moment of Truth

As for my moment of truth -- I did have one -- it was when I realized how many people actually helped me in my life, and in honor of them and their effort, I had to be better than average and make them all proud for taking the time and making the effort to help me. I thought to myself -- after what all these people have done for me (for example, Sally [Sally Becker, see bio] risked her life to save me, dozens of people donated blood for me, etc.), I can't possibly just hide in some office, make money and call it my life. I have to do something big so these individuals can look at me and say I helped with this and in turn they can all be proud of what they did. I owe them at least that much.

 

Kathy Kelly

Investigative Activities

Kathy Kelly frequently writes for Common Dreams.  Her article Pacified can be accessed through: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/30-0.  Read this article or other articles by Kathy and discuss the following questions:

  • Why does Kathy Kelly view the U.S. government as being guilty of committing war atrocities?
  • How has the U.S. government dealt with investigating these atrocities?  What has it done as a result of its investigation?  Are the actions enough?
  • Once we know of an atrocity of war what responsibility do we have have?
  • What actions has Kathy Kelly been involved in to challenge these atrocities?  What can we do to take a stand?
  • In what ways have we become pacified?  How did this happen?  How can we change? 

 

Jim Lewis

Moment of Truth

Epiphany equals light, enlightenment. Light broke in on my small world as a child in bed for a year, feeling left out and isolated from friends. Parents, a doctor, teachers and coaches were candles that helped me get past my own isolation and see others around me in pain. Three years as a marine overseas blinded me with the realization about the folly of war and the lies which led us into war in Vietnam. The big change necessary in my life took place, and still does, when I see the connections that exist between my faith beliefs and creation and all human beings. I follow a Jesus who prophetically challenged all forms of oppression, violence and abuse of power. He challenged the Roman Empire and now invites me to challenge the imperial power that exists in my own nation. My courage, whatever courage I can muster, comes from the many people who have inspired me with their courage. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and a host of people I meet daily who resist injustice keep me keep'in on. 

 

 

Cindy Sheehan

Moment of Truth

Although I was opposed to the Bush Administration and Although I was opposed to the Bush Administration and opposed to the Iraq war and wars in general, I never did anything to express that disapproval in a public way. I deeply regret my previous lack of action. My "aha" moment came on April 04, 2004 when my oldest son and best friend, Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq.

I don't know if I could have stopped Casey's death if I had been more proactive, instead of reactive, but I have dedicated my life to making reparations to my son by trying to enlighten other people to the evils of war and of imperial conquest for profit that took the life of my son, so we can minimize the pain and devastation.

If one life can be saved because of Casey's needless death, then I believe that's the Noble Cause.
 

 

Ann Wright

Moment of Truth

Although I was opposed to the Bush Administration and opposed to the Iraq war and wars in general, I never did anything to express that disapproval in a public way. I deeply regret my previous lack of action. My "aha" moment came on April 04, 2004 when my oldest son and best friend, Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq.

I don't know if I could have stopped Casey's death if I had been more proactive, instead of reactive, but I have dedicated my life to making reparations to my son by trying to enlighten other people to the evils of war and of imperial conquest for profit that took the life of my son, so we can minimize the pain and devastation.

If one life can be saved because of Casey's needless death, then I believe that's the Noble Cause.

 

Howard Zinn

Moment of Truth

I grew up in a family of working-class immigrants, living in tenements in Brooklyn. Our living quarters were rather miserable and we kids spent most of our time out in the streets.  It seemed natural that I should develop a certain class consciousness, an understanding that we lived in a society of rich and poor, and whether you were rich or poor had nothing to do with how hard you worked.   There were young radicals in my neighborhood, a few years older than me, and I was impressed with how much they knew about what was going on in the world. I was beginning to read books about Fascism and socialism. One day, my friends asked if I would join them in going to a demonstration in Times Square. I had never been to a demonstration, and it seemed like an exciting thing to do. When we got to Times Square, there was no sign of a demonstration, but when the big clock on the Times Building struck ten, banners unfurled in the crowd, and people began marching and chanting. I wasn't sure what they were concerned with but it seemed they were opposed to war, and that appealed to me. One of my friends took one end of a banner and I the other. I heard sirens and shouts and I wondered what was happening. Then I saw policemen on horses charging into the crowd, beating people with clubs. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Here were people peacefully demonstrating and they were attacked by the police. Before I knew it, I was spun around and hit on the side of the head, with what I didn't know. I was knocked unconscious, and when I woke up in a doorway, it was an eerie scene, everything quiet as if nothing had happened. But something had happened to me. I was stripped of my illusion that we lived in a democracy where people could protest peacefully.  At that moment I moved from being a liberal to being a radical, understanding that there was something fundamentally wrong with the system that I had always thought cherished freedom and democracy.        

Working with Two Specific Quotes 

“The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.”

  1. What does Mr. Zinn mean when he talks about people being unequal?
  2. What do you believe Mr. Zinn means when he says that the system reinforces inequality? In what ways and why is this so?
  3. What does it mean to be a victim bewildered by the system of unequal wealth and power? Who are the victims of this system? Who are these people in your community? What are some examples of their ‘bewilderment’ in your own community?
  4. Are YOU someone who feels bewildered/confused by these systems? Do you sometimes wonder why some people have so much and others so little? If so, please share your story.
  5. Find and share examples in today’s art, music, books, poems and dramatic areas that you believe represent the “bewilderment of the victims of inequity.” What musicians, artists, writers do you know of that express their confusion and frustration with the fact that people do not have their needs met or their lives fulfilled equally?

“We can not be secure by limiting our liberties, as some of our political leaders are demanding, but only by expanding them…We should take our example not from the military and political leaders shouting ‘retaliate’ and ‘war’ but from the doctors and nurses and … firemen and policemen who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing, and not vengeance, but compassion.”

Consider and share examples from your own life experience of people you know responding with the violence and the compassion that Mr. Zinn speaks of here. From where do you find yourself most often reacting to life events: healing or vengeance? And from there, where do you see your community at school in this way?

 

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

 Activities

  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



I.    INTRODUCTION
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.

II.    GUIDING QUESTION
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?

III.    LEARNING OBJECTIVES
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: http://www.winstonchurchill.org/support/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

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

 

Proverbs

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: ashapiro7@comcast.net.

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
Phenomenally.
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
Phenomenally.
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
Phenomenally.
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
Phenomenally.
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.

 

 

Lessons

 
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: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/17110#learning


 

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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