The historian David Blight defines historical memory as “the study of cultural struggle, of contested truths, interpretations, moments, events, epochs, rituals, or even texts in history that thresh out rival versions of the past that are in turn put to the service of the present.”

The Project

Thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Choices Program will be holding a one-week institute for 25 secondary school educators called “American Soldiers in American Wars: History and Memory.” The institute will promote discussion and deepened understanding of the experiences of those Americans affiliated with the armed services, whether active duty or veterans.

The Institute

The week-long institute will take place held July 12-16, 2021, and will provide teachers with hands-on experience using a rich and engaging model for teaching the history of U.S. military conflicts. “American Soldiers in American Wars: History and Memory” will focus on the Civil War, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These conflicts were chosen as they address a variety of time periods and geographical locations and constitute an appropriate scope of material for a one-week institute.

Participants in the institute will explore a teaching model that links together the causes of American wars, primary source analysis of the experiences of American military personnel, and investigations into both veterans’ personal memories of their service and the politicized nature of Americans’ collective memories of war. Sessions led by participating project faculty and Choices Program staff will help teachers deepen their knowledge about these conflicts and adapt the material and teaching model for use in their classrooms.

The Funding

As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) initiative “Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War,” the Choices Program has received funding to provide professional enrichment for secondary school teachers in the form of a week-long institute. Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

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