From my uncles who landed at Normandy a few days after D-Day to an old friend who was a POW in Korea and my classmates who served in Viet Nam, all I really know is that they were there. So I was very surprised when a couple of projects in my former school district got veterans talking. We actually have a WWII class and they sought out veterans who were willing to add their stories to a project for the Library of Congress. This was documenting and not really storytelling. If we had had more time, the students could have pulled a few experiences out of every interview’s 30-60 minutes, added archival footage or memorabilia, and edited it into a very small version of what Ken Burns’ recent “The War” gave us. Putting each student’s veteran’s clip together on a DVD would have made for a great store of primary sources. O, for more time…
On the other hand, when we invited senior citizens in for each semester’s digital storytelling workshop there was a gentleman who was more than ready to tell how his WWII unit just happened to be where the only remaining bridge over the Rhine was (see “Ludendorf Bridge”). And another man whose father was in the Army band between the wars lightheartedly shared how his father survived but the trumpet didn’t (see “We Can’t Toot his Horn”). And I originally forgot “Building Bridges” by a veteran whose WWII service time was spent preparing a route east from Burma.
A huge benefit of engaging your students in digital storytelling is their involvement in real world experience: asking their own questions, getting unexpected or very unique answers, and “seeing” through different points of view.
A search on “veteran” on Discovery Education streaming turned up about ten videos germane to Veterans’ Day. The first picture above is from Discovery Education, “Veterans and Veterans Day” and the second one is out of United Learning, “Return to Vietnam: Healing on the Hill,” both at http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com
On a personal note, I still don’t have a real good answer for my father-in-law’s annual question, “Why, when I was the one under fire in the Pacific for years, do you and your students get the day off and I don’t?” And he owned his own business. Sense of duty, I guess.