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Issue 16: Remembrance & Gold Star Mothers

After the Armistice, the presence of the war was still unmistakable, especially for those who lost loved ones. World War I was unlike previous wars, and the reaction to it was equally revolutionary in its visibility. Rather than quietly move on, people reflected on the tragedy of the war in increasingly expressive ways, including “Gold Star Mothers,” those whose children died in combat. In literature, in monuments and in legislation, the losses caused by WWI rippled through the fabric of society.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

 — From the 1914 poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon.

A Living Memorial

American Battle Monuments Commission

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was created in 1923 to care for American burial grounds and memorials on foreign soil, which today includes 26 cemeteries and 29 memorials. ABMC's lesson plans and resources cover a range of topics and subject areas. Start with A Living Memorial to understand the role of remembrance at the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, then take a Virtual Field Trip to the battlefield. A link to all of the resources is below.

Recommended Grade Levels: All Levels
Format: Digital Videos, Lesson Plans, Primary Sources and More

After the 11th Hour

Scholastic & the National WWI Museum and Memorial

In this lesson plan, students will learn about the end of WWI and how Armistice Day eventually became Veterans Day. An activity sheet to create a WWI commemoration is also included. This lesson is part of a series of curriculum and activities created by Scholastic with the National WWI Museum and Memorial and the United States World War One Centennial Commission, intended to give students a rounded background and understanding of the enduring impact of the war meant to “end all wars.”

Recommended Grade Levels: Elementary School, Middle School
Format:Lesson Plan, Digital Video

How Poppies Became a Symbol of Remembrance After World War I

Time Magazine

Y.W.C.A. volunteer Moina Michael was inspired to create and wear poppies to remember the fallen of WWI after reading John McCrae’s poem "In Flanders Fields." This 2018 article by Ciara Nugent explores how a small act of remembrance in the United States spread, making poppies a global symbol of remembrance.

Recommended Grade Levels: All Levels
Format: Online Article

Want to learn more about the symbolism of the poppy? This resource includes more information as well as crafts for younger learners.

Literary Memories of World War I

British Library

In this article, Professor Emeritus Modris Eksteins analyzes the use—and limitations—of literature as a way of confronting the atrocities and devastation of the WWI, primarily focusing on literature written during the 1920s and 1930s.

Recommended Grade Levels: High School, College, Adult Learners
Format: Online article and primary sources

A Challenging Legacy: Memories of the First World War in Germany

Colonel Dr. Hans-Hubertus Mack

This speech by Colonel Dr. Hans-Hubertus Mack, part of the Australian War Memorial's Remembrance Day Commemoration, discusses the complicated—and often neglected—position that World War I remembrance has held in the German psyche.

Recommended Grade Levels: College, Adult Learners
Format: Online Article

“This was a sad trip, for all the Pilgrims. Some were taken to their sons, or husbands grave, while others were disappointed, as the records are not all complete. There are 252 graves unknown. … The Mothers of the unknown could go, and pick out an unknown grave to decorate. The Mothers did this in a kindly spirit. It was some Mother’s son, lying beneath the sod, who paid the supreme sacrifice for the same cause.”

 — Sophia Musbach Neth, discussing a Gold Star Mother pilgrimage in her diary, Aug. 26, 1931. Her son, Private Carl F. Musbach, was killed in action July 18, 1918.

Gold Star Mothers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 1927. Photo from Library of Congress.

World War I Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimages

National Archives

In 1929, Congress enacted legislation authorizing pilgrimages of mothers and widows to visit the graves of their deceased sons and husbands. This article by Constance Potter describes the history of soldiers’ burials and the Gold Star Mothers as well as the difficulties encountered when organizing the pilgrimages of 6,693 women. The article also focuses on Katherine Holley, an African American widow who encountered segregation and other hardships during her pilgrimage in 1930.

Recommended Grade Levels: High School, College, Adult Learners
Format: Online Article

The United States World War One Centennial Commission and the National WWI Museum and Memorial are dedicated to educating the public about the causes, events, and consequences of the conflict and we encourage the use of these resources to better understand the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.

Partners on this project include:

 Pritzker Military Museum and Library    National Archives    The Great War YouTube Channel    MacArthur Memorial    National History Day    American Battle Monuments Commission    Stanford History Education Group    Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Arizona    HISTORY®    AFS Intercultural Programs    Library of Congress    New York State Archives Partnership Trust / New York State Archives    Aberdeen Proving Ground    The Map as History    International Baccalaureate    College Board    Villanova University    Facing History and Ourselves    Mission du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale    Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H   Google Arts & Culture    Scholastic  

The Pritzker Military Museum and Library is a founding sponsor of the United States World War One Centennial Commission.