All of you history buffs and world studies teachers know that Tuesday, March 8 marked the 67th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe, essentially ending all forms of combat in the European theater. A momentous occasion, the victory signified the fall of Adolf Hitler’s wildly ambitious aims to expand the influence of the Third Reich. It’s a also slowly becoming a distant part of history.
67 years is a long time. It is estimated that 850 World War II veterans pass on every day. As a result, every day brings us closer to the fact that we will learn about World War II through archived footage and notes and rely less on live, first hand accounts. That seems odd to me, since I knew several World War II veterans when I was still in elementary school, so there was still a personal connection for me to that time period. By comparison, the Civil War had been long over so I found it hard back then to form a relevant connection even though that conflict changed the entire course of American history.
Nowadays, the events of World War II run that same risk. Today’s students, more than ever, will view it as strictly a piece of history. How do you, as teachers, refocus the World War II lesson plan to make its impact feel more immediate to your students today?