Lesson Plan

The Memory Star Project

Memory Stars
Memory Stars mean many things.

NPS\S. Steinhorst

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Grade Level:
Art, Civil War, Community, History, Military and Wartime History
30 minutes
Group Size:
60 or more


The Memory Star Project hopes to collect 13,000 stars from classrooms, families and community members across the country; one star for each life that ended too soon.  13,000 stars illustrate the physical scope of prison fatalities but also the infinite number of dreams, loves and unrealized futures that each person possessed.  Just as prisoners came from all over America, so too do we hope to have Memory Stars from every state.


"And while the stars their vigil keep,
Across the silence of the sky,
The nation's love for those who sleep,
At Andersonville shall not die."

During the Civil War, soldiers died in battles, hospitals, and fields. They died as free men and prisoners. At Andersonville prison, 13,000 United States soldiers were lost in a mere 14 months. Throughout the entire war over 56,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in captivity. Some prisoners were no more than children; their lives ended, and often no one remains to remember them. In 2014-2015, Andersonville National Historic Site would like to honor these lives.

Why a Memory Star?

Stars are important symbols in history and literature, and they continue to fascinate our scientists, explorers, and poets. Stars are navigational tools for sailors or lights for travelers in the dark. Stars are also major figures in military insignia, regimental flags and medals.

Stars were important in both the United States and Confederate flags during the Civil War. Soldiers protected their flags from capture on the battlefield. In some cases, they tore their flags apart and hid the pieces, before they would let someone else take their flag. Inside of prisons, like Andersonville, flags were illegal. If found they might be taken and destroyed. Prisoners cherished their flags, because they represented everything they were fighting to protect. After the war, veterans met and put the pieces of their flags back together. Their flags were reunited, in the same way that the Union was mending itself.  

150 years later, we want to bring our stars together with your help.


 For this lesson, you will need white 8 1/2 by 11 paper, the star template, scissors and art supplies.