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Helpful Hints

1. Groups may want to consult the chronology of United States military actions and wars for basic information on their assigned conflict.

2. After students have read their letters, you might want to hold a class discussion on which of the letters in the film the students found most powerful, and why.

1. Locations mentioned in the film include Pearl Harbor, site of the Japanese attack that brought the United States into World War II; the Philippines, captured by the Japanese at the start of World War II but recaptured by the United States in 1945; and Bien Hoa in Vietnam, site of an important American air base near the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, attacked by the Viet Cong.

2. Students may be surprised at the geographic scope of American military involvement or at the number of stars within the present-day United States.

1. Letters might describe rationing, wartime shortages, and symbolic actions of support (such as placing a star in the window of a serviceman's home). To get students started, you might suggest they review the information on rationing in World War II that can be found on the Smithsonian website. Students may also wish to visit the National Archives and Record Administration's online exhibit of World War II propaganda posters urging Americans to conserve resources.

2. You might suggest that students select conflicts that are more recent and/or more significant, since finding data on these conflicts should be easier. One example of the type of resource available is a paper by Alan Gropman, "Mobilizing U.S. Industry in World War II", published by the Institute for National Strategic Studies and loaded with World War II statistics.

1. Students should be cautioned that because their questions may raise painful memories for some people, they must conduct these interviews with respect and tact.

2. Policy statements should be clearly written and should explain the reasons for their positions.

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My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

From the Civil War, to Vietnam, to World War II, and more contemporary conflicts, soldiers have been writing home from the front lines for centuries. Has anyone ever written to you from the battlefield? Do you have any war letters to share?