World War I Student Essay Program


My grandparents, 1915, my grandmother, a Vassar College Student, and my grandfather in his Williams College ROTC uniform.

This past Veterans Day I was invited to speak at an area school. I could not because of a schedule conflict. Bemidji School Superintendent Tim Lutz and I started visiting about Veterans Day 2018, the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day–the end of World War One. Over the past several months, the following program came into focus. Our hope is to make it a state-wide program, promoted through veterans organizations at community level. Below are details of the Essay Program. Please share it with your contacts–especially educators.

One century ago citizens referred to it as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars”. It was only labeled “World War I” in September 1939, after the beginning of World War II. The end of WWI was originally known as Armistice Day – known today as Veterans Day.
November 11, 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. Through student participation, we hope to bring history alive, across the state, for young people at the local level. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for students to explore their family histories – contributions, sacrifices, and service, during World War One.
An added goal, if applicable, is to encourage students to explore their family history in light of the context of race and ethnicity and how society, at that time, viewed minority groups including Native Americans and African-Americans, as well as immigrants from around the world and their contributions to the war effort.
Goals:
• Students research a family member or local community member who served in World War One (WWI).
• Student researches societal perspective during WWI of a specific minority group and the impact experienced by those affected. (Students should be mindful that during the context of World War One, minorities may have included Germans, Irish, Mediterranean, Russian, or any other group of immigrants who were new to the United States.)
Essay Guideline:
• 500-750 word essay
• Last paragraph to summarize what student learned
• Essays to be judged at local school level
• First, Second, Third place winning research essay (Prizes to be determined locally)
• Students will read winning essays at their community Veteran’s Day event in November.

Here are a few links for jumping off points:
http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/minnesota-in-ww1.html
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/great-war/
http://libguides.mnhs.org/ww1/abroad
https://mndigital.org/projects/primary-source-sets/world-war-i-minnesota-home-front
https://www.military.com/history/fighting-for-respect-african-american-soldiers-wwi.html
http://www.minnesotahistorycenter.org/exhibits/ww1-america

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