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The following activities will help students learn more about how technology has affected warfare and how wars are memorialized.

Activity 1: Victory or Defeat?
One student of the Battle of Midway attributed the American victory to intelligence, strategy, tactics, and luck.1 Have students review the information contained in this lesson and then hold a classroom discussion to decide which of these elements made the greatest contribution to the victory.

Activity 2: Technology and Warfare
Technological changes in weapons seem to be a race between offense, the ability to hurt the enemy, and defense, the ability to protect yourself. Have students work in groups of four or five to review the following list of technological developments that have affected warfare. Can they identify any patterns in these groupings? Ask them to consider questions such as: How have the weapons of war changed over time? How have "battlefields" changed over time in terms of scale? How has the physical relationship between enemies changed? Have one or two groups explain their answers to the class. Then hold a general class discussion on how weapons technology might affect attitudes towards making war.
Offensive Weapons: Defensive Weapons:
swords shields
spears armor
gunpowder trenches
cannons fortifications
battleships submarines
aircraft anti-aircraft guns and radar
bombs bomb-proof shelters
aircraft carriers more aircraft carriers
nuclear bombs more nuclear bombs
guided missiles anti-missile missiles

Activity 3: Remembering the Battle of Midway

Explain to students that on September 13, 2000, Midway Atoll was designated as the Battle of Midway National Memorial. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the Memorial. One monument to the battle has already been constructed. In January 2002, the Fish and Wildlife Service formed a planning committee to develop a strategy for a public dedication for the memorial and to plan commemorative exhibits. Ask students what they think should happen? Should structures surviving from the battle, like the magazine shown in Photo 6, be preserved? Why? How should they be marked and interpreted? What is the best way to commemorate a battle that took place at sea? Ask local veterans' groups if they can locate someone who participated in the Battle of Midway who would speak to the class about his experiences. Ask the veteran how he thinks the battle should be remembered.

Ask the students whether there is an alternate way to help Americans remember the battle given the difficulty of traveling to Midway. Can they think of an appropriate site for a memorial marker? Have them work in small groups to prepare an inscription of about 100 words that could be placed on an interpretive marker. Then have the class compare the groups' ideas and chose one they think best presents important information about the Battle of Midway.

Activity 4: Local War Memorials
Have students work in groups to investigate and list the types of war memorials that exist in their community. Some towns have elaborate statuary or walls with the names of the community's men and women who gave their lives in a particular war. Other towns may have a rusty World War II tank on the courthouse lawn. Most memorials are dedicated to a whole war rather than a particular battle. Ask students why that might be. As a class, discuss the types of war memorials in the local community and consider other ways to commemorate wars. Contact your local Veteran's association to determine which war memorial could use a local clean up and work with the association to arrange for a class excursion to clean up the memorial and its surrounding grounds.

1Edmund L. Castillo, Midway: Battle for the Pacific (New York: Random House, 1989), 149.

 

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