Last month, the Friends of the National World War II Memorial (Friends) hosted its Fourth Annual Teachers Conference in Washington, D.C. Friends was pleased to welcome 57 teachers from 27 states and one Canadian province, who teach from the elementary to the college level, to participate in a five-day conference which gave them tools to teach World War II in the classroom.
Every summer, Friends hosts this conference, which features presentations by educators and other experts in WWII history, panels discussions with WWII veterans, tours of sites of WWII significance, and a remembrance ceremony at the WWII Memorial.
Participants in the conference are exposed to a broad spectrum of WWII history resources and tools aimed at educating current and future generations about the everyday men and women whose character, courage, creativity, determination, and innovation not only led to the winning of the war, but also reshaped America.
This year, Conference theme was “Industry and Innovation During World War II.” All of the presentations and site-visits were somehow related to this theme, including: the innovations of Liberty Ships and Higgins Boats, how industry relied on household appliances during the war, the Manhattan Project and its effects, and innovations in American culture, like in food, fashion, and art. Several of the presenters were participants from previous years of the conference.
This year’s conference theme of industry and innovation allowed educators to not only see how the war changed the U.S. and American society, but also to see the ingenuity and adaptability of America’s Greatest Generation. Additionally, the theme covered a broad swath of WWII experiences, which will be accessible and interesting to a wide variety of students – whether they are interested in engineering, military history, food, fashion, art, or anything in between.
You can access videos of all of the conference presentations here.
This year’s conference also featured a panel discussion with two World War II aviator veterans – Colonel Charles McGee, one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, and Ewing Miller, who was a German POW for part of the war.
The teachers also had a chance to hear from World War II veteran Lincoln Harner, a D-Day veteran, about his wartime experiences. Connecting educators with WWII veterans is an imperative part of the conference, as it allows them to experience living history and take those first-hand accounts back to their students.
At the heart of the Friends’ Teachers Conference program is the concept of community service.
After the conference, participants return to their schools and communities with the ability and desire to empower America’s young people with a heightened sense of community, civic engagement, and personal responsibility to renew the spirit of unit and share purpose, which defined the character of the U.S. during the war years.
Therefore, each participant is expected to enlist their students to fulfill a community service project within their communities in the year following the conference.
You can see a video of one such community service project here.
Every year the conference grows and improves. And every year, Friends continues to be impressed and humbled by the participation and contributions of such incredible educators from around the country. We’re already looking forward to next summer’s conference!
If you are interested in participating in future conferences, you can click here.