Understanding Sacrifice

Understanding Sacrifice was a program run by NHD from 2014 to 2019. The program featured four year-long professional development opportunities that took teachers on a journey of exploration and discovery through the lives of American heroes of World War II. It was conducted by National History Day® and sponsored by American Battle Monuments Commission and the National Cemetery Administration. Teachers produced educational materials in a variety of disciplines from art to science and, of course, history. These classroom resources are then hosted for free on NHDSilentheroes.org.



World War II Lesson Plans
World War II Videos
World War II Lesson Plans
World War II Videos
African American Experiences

AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES: Sowing the seeds of change during World War II

During World War II African Americans served in segregated units and faced discrimination. Despite this treatment as second class citizens, African Americans served bravely, fighting to uphold the values of democracy. Learn about how their experiences during the war sowed the seeds of change post war, and hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze some of these real-life examples that were used during the war.

African American Experiences Supporting Materials

Comparing Cemeteries

COMPARING CEMETERIES: How nations remember their fallen service members after World War II

After World War II, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany all chose to bury their war dead in very different types of cemeteries. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, an associate professor at George Mason University and a member of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, explain the challenges and choices made by these countries.

Comparing Cemeteries Supporting Materials

D-Day in Documents

D-DAY IN DOCUMENTS: Comparing Eisenhower's "In Case of Failure Memo" to "The Order of the Day"

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, in the lead-up to D-Day, penned two important documents. Only one became public at the time as the other was prepared in the event that the landings failed. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, compare these two historic documents.

D-Day in Documents Supporting Materials

Decision

DECISION: The U.S. government’s promise to the families of the fallen

After World War II families had to decide if they wanted their loved one returned to the United States for burial or have them interred overseas. The U.S. government put together resources, to include a film, to help families understand their options. Learn about how the government chose to communicate this important issue, and hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze this real-life example that was used after the war.

Decision Supporting Materials

Planning for War

PLANNING FOR WAR: The logistics of sending combat troops into battle

Sending combat troops into battle during World War II required significant planning, and documents from the war can tell us a lot about how military leadership approached the strategy. Learn about planning during the war, and hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze some of these real-life examples that were used during the war.

Planning for War Supporting Materials

Race and the Enemy

RACE AND THE ENEMY: Comparing German and Japanese depictions in U.S. war propaganda

In World War II U.S. war propaganda, the German and Japanese were depicted in very different ways. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, compare the U.S. depictions of these enemies.

Race and the Enemy Supporting Materials

The Atomic Bomb

THE ATOMIC BOMB: Luis Alvarez's letter to his son from aboard The Artiste

The atomic bomb ended World War II, and ushered in a new era in world history, and the effects of dropping the bomb were seen immediately. First person accounts of the event add significant understanding of what happened that day. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze a primary-source letter describing the events that day.

The Atomic Bomb Supporting Materials

Why They Fight

WHY THEY FIGHT: Analyzing how the military motivates soldiers to go into combat

Posters, films, and newspapers are just a few examples of how the U.S. government motivated its soldiers during World War II. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze some of these real-life examples that were used during the war.

Why They Fight Supporting Materials

Women in the Workforce

WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE: Examining depictions of women's roles during World War II

World War II changed gender boundaries in the United States. Hear Dr. Christopher Hamner, associate professor at George Mason University and part of ABMC's Understanding Sacrifice program, analyze some of these real-life examples that were used during the war.

Women in the Workforce Supporting Materials

About the Understanding Sacrifice program
About ABMC

Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers 25 overseas military cemeteries and 27 memorials, monuments, and markers. For more information visit www.abmc.gov, or connect with the ABMC on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.


About NCA

The National Cemetery Administration maintains cemeteries and national shrines dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory of those interred or memorialized there. For more information visit www.cem.va.gov/, or connect with the NCA on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.


About Dr. Christopher Hamner

Dr. Christopher Hamner served as the lead historian for the Understanding Sacrifice program. He teaches at George Mason University, and is the author of Enduring Battle: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945. From 2014 to 2016 he was a Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College, and in 2012 received Mason's Teaching Excellence Award.

All Silent Hero profiles, World War II Lesson Plans, and World War II videos and supporting materials were researched and created with the Understanding Sacrifice program, sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

When the Akimotos Went to War: An Untold Story of Family, Patriotism and Sacrifice during World War II

The book captures the story of three Japanese-American brothers, who volunteered for military service while their family members were forced into an internment camp during World War II.