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American Odyssey
American Odyssey: The 20th Century and Beyond Glencoe Online
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Web Activity Lesson Plan
Chapter 23: The Vietnam War
"Vietnam Veterans Memorials"


Students have read about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In this exercise, students will research national, state, and individual memorials that honor Vietnam War veterans.

Lesson Description

Students will use information from the Vietnam Veterans Memorials Around The World Web site to learn about the many memorials that pay tribute to the veterans of the Vietnam War. Students will read about and see photos of the Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Washington, D.C., and several states' memorials. Students will also find poems, drawings, and stories that memorialize Vietnam War veterans. Students will then answer four questions and apply this information by designing their own memorial to the Vietnam Veterans.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will demonstrate understanding of the domestic consequences of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
  2. Students will be able to use this knowledge to design a memorial to honor the Vietnam War veterans.

Student Activity Answers

  1. Unlike many traditional monuments to war veterans, the Vietnam memorials include the names of those missing and killed in action.
  2. In several memorials, the POW-MIA flag flies with the American flag. In Kentucky, a sundial shadow crosses the names of all those killed in action, but not the names of those missing in action. Sometimes a separate stone is carved with the POW-MIA emblem and placed at the monument. In Michigan, a star next to the name on the memorial indicates that the veteran was missing in action; a name with two stars next to it identifies a veteran who died in captivity. At the Wall in Washington, D.C., an engraved diamond before the veteran's name indicates that the he was missing in action.
  3. Visitors to the state and national memorials report being profoundly moved. At several of the sites, visitors leave personal mementos such as birthday cards, clothing, photos, letters, and other items. Visitors often create rubbings of the engraved names when they visit the memorials that feature the names of the veterans. Park rangers at the Wall collect and label items left at the memorial daily, and several of these are described at this Web site.
  4. The dates listed on the wall in Washington, D.C., are 1959 and 1975. The dates cover a greater expanse of time than the official dates of the Vietnam War because American troops were actually present in Vietnam and suffered casualties long before the first major troop deployments took place in 1965. Likewise, American forces continued to suffer casualties in Vietnam for years after the ceasefire of 1973.
  5. Students' memorials will vary.

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