Virtual Bookshelf: Veterans Day

WWII Veteran and RI National Guard member high-five
Photo caption

World War II veteran, Claude Cawood, gives Jeffery Lemire, first sergeant, Rhode Island Army National Guard a high-five at Camp Grayling, Mich. 

(November 7, 2023)

Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day is celebrated each year on November 11 to honor those who have served in the United States military. In 2014, NEH announced the Standing Together initiative, an ongoing effort to promote a better understanding of military service and support returning veterans. Take a look at these NEH grant-funded projects, Humanities magazine articles, and EDSITEment resources examining the experiences of generations of Americans who have served. 

NEH-Funded Projects:

Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad
Matthew F. Delmont’s NEH Public Scholars book, Half American, tells the stories of more than one million African American soldiers who served during World War II. African American soldiers were fighting two enemies during World War II: the Axis powers and segregation. Delmont’s book provides readers with a new perspective of the war and the African American veterans who returned home. Half American was named A Best Book of the Year by TIME, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Washington Independent Review of Books.

Women in the U.S. Navy During World War II: An Online Archive of the WAVES  
This interactive storytelling, oral history, and documentary film resource tells the story of the more than 100,000 women who enlisted during World War II in the Navy and Coast Guard. Hear the hidden histories of a generation of women—known in the Navy as “Women Accepted for Voluntary Service” or WAVES—who changed the course of American life.

Real Soldiering: The US Army in the Aftermath of War, 1815-1980
NEH fellow, Brian M. Linn provides the first comprehensive study of the U.S. Army’s transition from war to peacetime from 1812 onwards. Linn illuminates the stories of soldiers who remain in uniform after conflict has ended and what they do to rebuild the military.

The American Solider in World War II
Through the support of an NEH grant and with the help of more than 7,000 volunteers, “The American Soldier” project has digitized and transcribed more than 65,000 handwritten reflections from U.S. soldiers in World War II.

The Vietnam War
This ten-part documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tells the epic story of one of the most consequential and controversial events in American history. The Vietnam War explores the human dimensions of the war through the testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides—Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as combatants and civilians from North and South Vietnam.

I Remain Yours: Common Lives in Civil War Letters
NEH Public Scholar Christopher Hager explores the explosion of letter writing during the Civil War and the ways relatively uneducated men and women embraced this means of communication to sustain relationships during wartime separation. By exploring the perspectives of ordinary people, Hager reveals how culture was transformed by letter-writing.

We are Veterans Too: Women’s Experiences in the U.S. Military
The “We are Veterans Too” project, which received a 2020 NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War grant, is creating a network of facilitators trained to lead discussion programs where female veterans and current service members can discuss their experiences. Institutions in Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia—states with the highest concentration of female veterans according to the Department of Veterans Affairs—are participating in the project.

Listening to War: Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories
With more than 1,100 oral history interviews, 1,299 hours of sound recording, and 330 hours of moving images, this NEH grant-funded collection brings together first-person accounts of veterans and civilians in Wisconsin in the twentieth century. Learn how to record oral histories with this toolkit from the project.

Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History
Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History, directed by Ric Burns, explores the lives and experiences of disabled veterans throughout American history, beginning with the aftermath of the American Revolution through today’s conflicts in the Middle East. A moving tribute to the history of disabled veterans, the documentary takes an unflinching look at warfare and disability, featuring interviews with some of the country’s most prominent disabled veterans alongside archival footage and photography.  

Expanding the Warrior’s Path: War, Moral Injury, and Reclaiming the Soul
With support from an NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War grant, the Warrior’s Path project trains veterans to lead both veteran-to-veteran and veteran-to-civilian discussions on the moral implications of war. To stay up to date on project’s developments, check out the Warrior's Path discussion series Facebook page.

What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War
Nearly 1,600 Americans are still unaccounted for and presumed dead from the Vietnam War. NEH Public Scholar Sarah E. Wagner brings to life the stories of those who continue to mourn their loss and those who are working tirelessly to bring the missing home. According to the book jacket, “Through their experiences [Wagner] examines the ongoing toll of America’s most fraught war.”

Warrior Spirit Project
An NEH grant is supporting the National Indian Education Association’s Warrior Spirit Project, which seeks to educate about the dedication, contributions, and sacrifices made by Native Americans in military service to our country through an online archive, educational materials, and an oral-history exhibition.

The War
Witness World War II through the eyes of those who experienced it in The War, a documentary film from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Teaching resources, informational articles, and the film itself give students a new perspective on daily life for the 16 million Americans who served from 1941 to 1945.

War, Trauma, and the Humanities
In this project, trained student veterans helped lead an undergraduate course at Governors State University in Illinois on war and trauma during four conflicts from World War I to the present. The English course used group discussion of literature, film, memoirs, and oral histories of war to help veterans and active military members better understand their experiences and to teach all students more about the experience of war.

The Civil War
NEH supported production of Ken Burns’s landmark 1990 documentary series The Civil War, which offers a “comprehensive and definitive history” of the devastating four-year war, fought in more than 10,000 locations, according to the film’s website. The nine-part series dives into the lasting impact the war had on Americans and the lives of those who fought.

A Soldier's Place: Veterans and Civilians Speaking About War
National University’s year-long training and humanities discussion program, supported by an NEH grant, explores themes of trauma, loyalty, heroism, and homecoming and the impact they have on individuals and societies.

The Case for Agent Orange: Uncovering Defendants' Legal Discovery in a Landmark Case of Civil Litigation
At Texas Tech University, an NEH grant is helping process sealed papers omitted from the landmark 1984 Agent Orange product liability litigation class-action lawsuit. This collection is a little-known resource for the study of the production and use of Agent Orange and will help advance scholarship in a variety of different fields, including the military’s use of the chemical and its impact on veterans of the Vietnam War.

Fiction & Fact: A Dialogue with Veterans
This NEH-supported program for Arkansas veterans explores the themes of war and homecoming from World War I, the Vietnam War, and the second war in Iraq through group discussion of books, poetry, film, art, and oral histories.

National WWI Museum and Memorial
The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, was awarded NEH CARES funding to retain its staff to continue digitizing, transcribing, and creating online access to about 10,000 pages of letters, journals, and diaries dating from the First World War.

Ethics and War
This St. John Fisher College NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War project engages veterans, in and around Rochester, in discussions about duty, patriotism, and loyalty based on readings from and about World War I and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library PAG Project
An NEH Preservation Assistance grant to the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library is supporting the development of a disaster and emergency response plan for the museum to help preserve a collection that documents military life and service for Florida veterans from all branches of military service.

The Vietnam War: 1945-1975
Exploring the pivotal struggles felt both on the war front and the home front, The Vietnam War: 1945-1975 at the New-York Historical Society looked at how the divisive war challenged democracy, citizenship, patriotism, and the foundations of American life. The exhibition featured more than 300 artifacts, photographs, artworks, documents, films, and interactive digital media.

Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War
In Double Crossed, NEH Public Scholar Matthew Sutton tells the story of espionage, faith, and covert operations in World War II. “What makes a good missionary makes a good spy,” the book jacket reads.
World War I and American Art
The first major museum exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists reacted to the First World War, World War I and American Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts examined how American artists interpreted their experiences, opinions, and perceptions of the conflict through their work. The exhibition, which opened in 2016, featured 160 works by 80 artists, including George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Carl Hoeckner, Mary Reid Kelley, George Luks, Georgia O'Keeffe, Man Ray, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, John Sloan, Edward Steichen, and Claggett Wilson.

NEH’s educational website, EDSITEment, provides free resources in the humanities for teachers, students, and parents. Help students conduct oral history interviews with Vietnam War veterans with this lesson plan, learn about the unique power of tattoos with the media resource “In the Field: War Ink,” and discover best practices for teaching about the Vietnam War with this close reading commentary. “War Literature: Being There or Not” discusses approaches to incorporating literary texts about war into the English classroom. The media resource “Latino Americans: War and Peace” uses the NEH-funded documentary Latino Americans as a prompt for classroom discussion and research on the experiences of Latino-American service members during WWII.

State Humanities Councils:
Around the country, NEH’s state and jurisdictional humanities councils are celebrating Veterans Day with public events and resources. During November, Missouri Humanities is working with the National Park Service to present screenings of The Greatest Bond  and The Tuskegee Airmen at the George Washington Carver National Monument. On November 10, New Jersey Council for the Humanities will sponsor “From Military Trauma to Healing Through Creative Arts,” a live Veterans Day event at the Newark Public Library. The Tuskegee Legacy exhibition at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum has added new components and content with funding from Oklahoma Humanities, including a P-51 Mustang simulator. And see a list of state humanities council projects for veterans and military families that received funding under NEH’s Standing Together initiative.

Blog Posts:
50 States of Preservation: The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, WI
Preservation and Access: Military History
Remembering D-Day: The Humanities and the Experience of War
Soldier Newspapers in the Civil War
Voices of the Vietnam War
The Service Member’s Experience: How Humanities Research Illuminates the Sacrifices of Those Who Defend Our Freedom 

Humanities Magazine Articles:
Veterans in Tampa Bay Tell Their Stories
Minnesota Makes October Veterans Voices Month
Veterans Tackle PTSD with Traditional Indian Healing
How the GI Bill Became Law in Spite of Some Veterans’ Groups
A Soldier’s Words
Warriors on Stage
Warrior Lit
Masks of Valor
Troops and Tropes
Theater of War
Speaking About Vietnam
After Shock
G.I. Snow
Combat Artist
National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum

Code Talkers Were America’s Secret Weapon in World War II
Students Record the Lives of Veterans

Media Contacts: