Monday, November 8, 2010

Themed Reviews: Veterans Day

On November 11, 1918 an armistice between Allied Forces and Germany was signed, ending World War I after four years of fighting. The armistice ended hostilities at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The following year U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first Armistice Day proclamation:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

On Armistice Day in 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in WWI was buried in a special tomb in Arlington National Cemetery; now know as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by members of The Old Guard and located near the center of the cemetery.

Armistice Day was declared a Federal holiday in 1938. Celebrations honoring WWI veterans continued to include parades, public gatherings, and moments of silence.

After World War II and the Korean War, veteran service organizations lobbied congress to amend the 1938 act—changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.” This new legislation was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 1, 1954. Since November 11, 1954 the U.S. has honored American veterans, living or dead, of all wars on Veterans Day.

The following recently published books are about Veterans Day, wars involving American soldiers, or the impact veterans have on their friends and family. Browse through this feature and those from previous years to discover more.

The War to End All Wars: World War I
Russell Freedman
The clearest and most comprehensible book about World War I also delivers a strong anti-war message. Freedman presents the political and social temperaments of 1914 and the naiveté of European leaders and ordinary citizens that led to the war frenzy. He then takes the reader through all aspects of this war that was presumed at the very beginning to be short-lived. Well-selected photographs personalize the events. Along with the text they show life in the trenches and the death and destruction caused by the use of the new military technologies. The futility of war resonates as Freedman recounts the famous battles of Verdun and the Somme. The changing climate of the war is seen through the sinking of the Lusitania, the war at sea, the Russian Revolution, and the entry of the United States. The last chapter, titled “Losing the Peace” recounts stunning human losses. Freedman correlates the poorly-drawn peace agreement to discord in the Middle East and resentments in Germany, which led to World War II and to today’s wars and unrest. Freedman has a singular ability to get to the core of the issue and present it with compelling storytelling. Through his careful and exhaustive research, Freedman selects just the right quotes, and weaves them seamlessly into the text. For a wide range of reasons, this is a book every young person needs to read. Source notes, bibliography, picture credits and an index complete the book. 2010, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 10 to 14, $22.00. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children’s Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-547-02686-2

1 comment:

  1. A new Veterans’ Day-themed episode is available on kids’ virtual field trip Web site Meet Me At The Corner ( Meet Me At The Corner combines the content that educators and parents trust with the high-tech delivery method today’s kids embrace.

    The episode starts with a visit to Colorado Springs’s Memorial Park led by Hannah, a 8-year-old Meet Me At The Corner correspondent. Hannah then interviews World War II veteran, Robert Williams. Williams shares with viewers the various jobs he held in the military, the significance of VE Day and VJ Day, and what it takes to be a good soldier.

    To help expand on the content,’s “Learning Corner” provides parents and teachers with a variety of episode-specific resources, activities and guided questions that meet national- and state-based educational standards.

    Our hope is that this episode initiates conversations about the true meaning of Veterans’ Day,” says Donna Guthrie, award-winning children’s author and founder of Meet Me At The Corner.