World War II
World War II was fought across four continents and thousands of miles of ocean. The lives of millions of military service members and civilians were affected by the events of this war. The lesson plans and walking tours in this module focus on the diverse experiences and individual stories of those who fought abroad or worked on the homefront during the war.

Walking Tours: World War II

These six walking tours share some of the diverse experiences and individual stories of those who fought abroad or worked on the home front during World War II. The main walking tour includes stops across the entire cemetery, while the four cluster tours only include stops in one of the four main sections of the cemetery. The school tour is an abridged version of the main tour.

Recommended Reading: World War II Perspectives

World War II was a people’s war. Mobilization for the war affected the lives of every American.
The collection of firsthand accounts compiled here ― all from individuals buried at Arlington National Cemetery ― include stories of love and loss, discrimination and perseverance, and horror and joy. Drawn from oral histories, interviews and personal writings, they provide small slices of the larger story of the United States’ experience in World War II.


Lesson Plan: Firsthand History

Students will analyze the purpose of primary sources before being introduced to Eddie Willner, a survivor of the Holocaust who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
They will then listen to a portion of an oral history interview he gave to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). While listening, students will answer questions about the interview and the importance of primary sources. Students do not need to already be familiar with World War II or the Holocaust in order to participate in this lesson.
  • One or two class periods, 90 minutes total

Lesson Plan: Telling the Story of World War II

In this lesson, high school students will use primary and secondary sources that illuminate the experiences of individuals buried at Arlington National Cemetery. These perspectives include African American women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, fighter pilots who served the Pacific Theater, Japanese Americans, military wives, and survivors of the Holocaust.
Students select a perspective, read an article related to that topic, and then watch an oral history interview with an individual who lived through World War II. After completing their own study, students participate in a discussion on the uses of primary and secondary sources. They will discuss how primary and secondary sources on their chosen topic contributed to their understanding of World War II as a whole.
  • Two class periods; 10 minute introduction; at-home examination of sources; 30-40 minute in-class discussion and activity

Lesson Plan: Women on the Homefront

During World War II, women were not allowed to serve in combat roles in the American armed forces. However, the work done by women who served on the American homefront was a vital support to the success of the Allied forces abroad.
In this lesson, students will examine primary sources related to the experiences of two women, both buried at Arlington National Cemetery, who served on the homefront in different ways. While the focus of this lesson is on analyzing primary sources and creative writing, through the lives of the two women highlighted students will also learn about the broader meanings of service and sacrifice during World War II, both in the military and on the homefront.

  • One or two class periods, 90 minutes total