Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Visualizing Memorial Day and Those Who Serve

Source: Infographics Archive
Perhaps no holiday in recent years seems so poignant as Memorial Day. We celebrate it in the United States on the last Monday in May to commemorate all those in the armed services who have lost their lives in defense of freedom and democracy.

In an age when many children are sheltered from the news, few have a significant understanding of the sacrifices made by those who fight in harm's way. For this reason, doing our part as teachers to inform them of why they have a three-day weekend might be the only way they learn the significance of this day.

Too few students know that over 4400 soldiers lost their lives in the Iraq War. Add in the 1954 American service members who lost their lives in Afghanistan released by the Department of Defense, and the total climbs to over 6300 fatalities today. If we include the coalition casualties for both wars, 2896 in Afghanistan and 4802 in Iraq, the death total climbs to 7698. This is why we need to help our students visually see why this holiday represents more than the simple marking of the beginning of summer.

Source: CNN Home and Away
The CNN interactive map of war casualties parallels the hometown of the service member with the place the soldier lost his or her life overseas. The map allows students to put a name to a dot on a map, rather than looking at a mere list of statistics. Even the bar charts are interactive. By rolling the mouse over each one, students see the exact totals by age, location, and date. For example, the highest death toll of soldiers by age was 21.
Source: In the Light Urn

Most of our students were also too young when these wars started and don't realize the magnitude of the death toll on other families. So for this Memorial Day, let's take the time to share with them the history of the day to remember the fallen.

We hope the infographics that are scattered throughout this post will help teachers connect an otherwise three-day weekend and the opening of beaches with the much more needed realization that we should all remember the veterans who served our country, and continue to serve today.

Talk to your students about the importance of this holiday. Show them the numbers, draw connections, and commemorate Memorial Day. It could not be more important for their education.

Source: Infograhics Archive

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