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Memories and the Military

Posted on May 26 2020

Memories and the Military

Dear Educators,

It’s Memorial Day weekend! Given current circumstances, the way we celebrate might be different, even if the meaning is the same. As we all struggle with giving up our freedoms in order to protect ourselves, our families and our country as a whole from COVID-19, it is a time for poignant reflection on those sacrifices made to protect our nation in the past.

This week’s content collection aims to give you a breadth of content to share with your students about what Memorial Day really means.

Summer Place Names

Memorial Day has become correlated with the start of summer in our modern culture. This week’s Map of the Week shows locations throughout the US that have summer names! You might want to use this as a bellringer activity where students come up with a proposal for a new name for the town they live in.

Geography News Network:
Why Americans Celebrate Memorial Day

As traditions continue, it can be easy to forget the real meaning behind the celebration. A holiday may become more associated with the way we celebrate than with the actual significance of it. This article dives into the meaning of Memorial Day as well as the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The extended learning questions at the end of the article can provide vibrant class discussions or writing activities.

Calendar Connections

Honoring our troops is a tradition on Memorial Day. The GNN article in this newsletter outlines some of the ways we have done that, such as by holding parades and services. With restrictions imposed by social distancing, what are the ways we are continuing to honor our troops without being able to congregate publicly? Have your students look up some forms of celebrating that people have come up with for this Memorial Day.

Why We Do What We Do

When we remember events from the past, personal or national, certain things stick out in our minds more than others. We are more likely to remember deeply emotional events, such as a first kiss with someone we love than we are a totally normal day. The way our brains encode memories is very much correlated with our emotional state, as that is what alerts our brains to significance. It’s not just the memories themselves that are colored by our emotional reaction to them, but the details and focus of the memory.

This article from the New Yorker talks about a variety of studies on how our memories are formed in relation to our emotion around them. What I took away from this is that creating emotional significance enhances memory recall. I think this is the reason creating a significant “why” for students and helping them relate to the content is so vital for learning to take place. When students feel connected to the content, they remember it better.

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