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Star Spangled Banner Stories for Students

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What can three American flags in the collection of The National WWII Museum tell us about the costs of war and the fight for freedom against fascism? They can actually tell us quite a lot, and be used as primary sources in the classroom to unlock stories from the past.

In the lesson plan “Stories that Flags Can Tell Us” for Grades 6-8, students are introduced to three flags: a hand-made flag from France; a burial flag; and a fighting flag from a ship that witnessed battles in the Pacific Theater. Working together in teams, students become “flag detectives” and piece together clues to reveal the symbolism and important WWII stories behind these flags. This lesson can easily be used in conjunction with Flag Day on June 14, or in relation to other national holidays, as an introduction to studying primary and secondary sources, or as a prelude to a WWII unit. Students who visit the Museum will also be able to see the flags on display in the current Road to Berlin and Pacific galleries, and in an upcoming Merchant Marine display.

Along with oral history interviews from members of the WWII generation, flags and other artifacts from history can provide us with a window into the hopes, thoughts, and feelings of people in the past, as well as show the lasting impact of the war upon their lives.

Explore these three flags and other flags in the Museum’s collection by visiting our physical galleries in New Orleans, our Focus On: Stars and Stripes feature and The Digital Collections of The National WWII Museum website at ww2online.org. Learn more about the observance of national holidays on the WWII Home Front, and get more classroom resources and ideas by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter, Calling All Teachers and following us on Twitter @wwiieducation.

Post by Megan Byrnes, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at The National WWII Museum. 

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