With Veterans in the Classroom Month fast approaching in November, now is the time to take full advantage of resources available from National Headquarters.
Across the country, VFW members are taking advantage of VFW publications that pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Americans in uniform. During the past decade, VFWs Publications Department at national headquarters has produced five books-three hardbacks and two soft covers-along with three major booklets (all are pictured on opposite page).
In addition, 10 separate combat chronologies covering all wars and campaigns of the 20th century have been published, not to mention numerous commemorative issues of VFW magazine.
Besides honoring the service of various war veterans, these publications are designed to be used as tools-handy references-in educating young Americans about the commitment made in America's wars.
Ideally, VFW members can purchase the books and donate them to teachers, who in turn can use them as instructional materials in the classroom. Likewise, because the books are one-of-a-kind references, local libraries can further make them available to the general public.
And that is precisely what has been happening with the most recent volumes in VFWs military history series. Intended to add to a better understanding of and appreciation for the Americans who fought on foreign shores, the reference works provide a convenient guide (complete with bibliographies) to subjects often ignored or misunderstood. Based on feedback from our members, VFW books are serving that purpose.
Cold War Clashes: Confronting Communism, 1945-1991, for example, has struck a responsive chord. Undoubtedly, the nation's most neglected modern war-the Cold War (which, by the way, does not mean Korea and Vietnam)-is a much-needed addition to the classroom. VFW members have ordered multiple copies ranging from five to 10. Many veterans are determined to see that copies are widely distributed.
Dean McCandless of La Quinta, Calif., purchased 10 copies of CoW War Clashes. "I wanted to be sure that my kids and grandchildren have a clear picture of what the Cold War was all about," he said. Adrian Helms of Floydada, Texas, bought nine copies for similar reasons. Paul Shogren urged Post 10077 in Oakland, Md., to buy seven copies as a special project.
He is challenging what many veterans perceive as misinformation in some classrooms. "Our Post acquired seven copies for donations to area public schools," he wrote in a letter to VFW. "It is an invaluable tool for educating students and completing oral history projects with historical societies."
Joel Williams of Lykens, Pa., worries that schools severely shortchange Cold War vets. "As a veteran of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, I find it appalling that so manv students I've spoken to over the past few years have no idea how close this country came to war with the Soviet Union," he said.
Many teachers agree that there is a void to fill. William F. Cerny is a history teacher at a private college in St. Marys, Kan. A former Marine officer and life member of Post 7796, he found Cold War Clashes very useful in instructing his students on this period of the nation's recent past.
Cheryl Campbell teaches European and 20th century history at the International Baccalaureate School at Amelia High School in Batavia, Ohio. "My classroom curriculum includes a good deal on the Cold War," she said. "VFW's Cold War Clashes provides me with a concise breakdown on events, which makes the teaching easier. I also use Battles of the Korean War"
Cheryl Madden is a professor of history who resides in Westerly, R.I. "I look forward to using Cold War Clashes in my classes," she wrote. "VFW magazine also has been helpful to me in teaching students facts and realities that their textbooks (appallingly) gloss over to keep in step with political correctness rather than historical truths. Thank you, VFW, for your ongoing efforts to educate and to commemorate properly the valor of our troops."
So when Veterans in the Classroom Month rolls around this November, be prepared to help young Americans learn about what other generations have done to preserve their freedoms.
If you need tips or ideas for programs to present to students, order the VFW Program Department's Veterans in the Classroom How-To Guide by calling (816) 756-3390, ext. 287.
Editor's Note: The newest volume in VFW's series of military history books is Combat Action: From Cambodia to the Balkans, 1975-1999. Also, the magazine's ongoing series on Vietnam's Deadliest Battles will be developed into a book when it is complete in two years.
Cold War Clashes: Confronting I Communism, 1945-1991
From the Iron Curtain to the Bamboo Curtain, read about the little-known confrontations involving GIs of every service.
Combat America at War in the 20th Century
Chronologies of wars that shaped America during the past century. Comprehensive with a clear focus on the fighting.
Combat Action: Cambodia to the Balkans, 1975-1999
Due out in fall 2005, this book covers all of the missions and operations that entailed actual snooting during this era.
VFW: Our First Century
The story of VFW from its birth in 1899 to the present day. Originally produced for VFW's 100th anniversary.
Faces of Victory-Europe: Liberating a Continent and Pacific: The Fall of the Rising Sun. Published during the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, these two volumes cover the entire war campaign by campaign. Sorry, sold out. (Try the Internet or used-book stores.)
Blaze in the Boondocks: Fighting on America's Imperial Frontier in the Philippines, 1899-1913. Tells the complete saga of the nation's least-known war.
Battles of the Korean War. A special commemorative piece for the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. Sorry, sold out. (Try the Internet or used-book stores.)
One Group's Success With Donating Books
Are you interested in getting books by VFW Publications into your schools and libraries, but aren't sure where to start? Use the experience of Dave Newman, a member of Post 647 in Danville, Va.
The Korean War vet found great educational value in Battles of the Korean War. * He and the other members of an informal group of Korea vets in his area agreed that the book should be used as a teaching tool.
"We had great success with this," Newman said. "We didn't stop until we got a book in every school around here."
They started by contacting the superintendent of the school system in Danville, who agreed to accept books for each of the district's school libraries. Then they approached the city librarian, who also was pleased to receive the book.
After that, they contacted schools and libraries throughout their county-eventually branching out to neighboring counties-including public schools, private schools, local colleges and even Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute.
They didn't always know people at these institutions, Newman said. For local schools, they contacted the superintendent or assistant superintendent. For libraries and colleges, they contacted the head librarian. Always they stressed the importance of the book from a teaching standpoint, and not once did someone turn them down.
Newman says they have received letters and phone calls from many of the recipients thanking them for the bookespecially librarians, who read the book themselves and wrote to express how much they liked it.
The biggest challenge for Newman and his fellow vets was coming up with the money to purchase the books. His Post donated $300, and he solicited donations from other community groups, such as the Elks.
The group also tried to generate as much publicity as possible. They alerted the local newspaper, which published an article on their efforts with photos of the city librarian and a school official accepting their copies of the book. The vets even got the project mentioned on their local TV station.
In all, Newman purchased 167 copies of Battles of the Korean War, on behalf of his fellow Korea vets and for donation to schools and libraries.
"Based on our own experience, we knew this stuff wasn't being taught," he said. "We feel it's a pretty bad disservice to the 36,576 young men who gave their lives. We're not going to forget them, and through our efforts with this book, we're going to make sure this neighborhood doesn't forget them."
On Battles of the Korean War
"This work is the most informative book that I have seen in my lifetime on the Korean War and contains not only deep insights into the men and women who served in that conflict, but also contains most valuable statistics on that war."
- Thomas R. Kcttey
DamnUe Public Schools
"An excellent resource for anyone interested in the Korean War or doing research on that topic. The entire work is well-written, very well-illustrated and contains a complete chronology of the war. This book will go a long way toward reminding Americans of the sacrifices made by so many in the armed forces."
-Jay Stephens, Director
Danville Public Library
"We purchased more than 100 copies of Battles of the Korean War tor donation to area schools, libraries and museums. It is a wonderful tribute to Korean War veterans and one that will assure their legacy for years to come. I cannot think of any better way to educate today's youth than to have VFW continue to publish such works and make them available to members and Posts for charitable contributions."
-Dave Newman, Post 647, Danville, Va.
"Note: Battles of the Korean War is completely sold out. Try the Internet or used-book stores.
VFW Book Awards
Cold War Clashes: 2005 National Mature Media Gold Award for Books, 2005 APEX Award of Excellence for Books, 2004 Association Trends Silver Award
Battles of the Korean War: 2004 National Mature Media Merit Award, 2004 APEX Award of Excellence, 2003 Association Trends Silver Award
Blaze in the Boondocks: 2003 APEX Grand Award
Combat: America at War in the 20th Century: 2002 APEX Grand Award
VFVV: Our First Century: 2000 APEX Award of Excellence
Faces of Victory: 1996 and 1997 Association Trends Awards
How to Order These Books
* Cold War Clashes: Confronting Communism, 1945-1991, $18. Call (816) 968-1167, or see ad on page 51.
* Combat: America at War in the 20th Century, $5 each, or 25 for $75, plus shipping. Call (816) 968-1192.
* Combat Action: Cambodia to the Balkans, 1975-1999, Due out in Fall 2005. Call (816) 968-1167 for info.
* VFW: Our First Century, 1899-1999, $24.95, plus shipping. Call (816) 968-1192.
* Blaze in the Boondocks: Fighting on America's Imperial Frontier in the Philippines, 1899-1913, $10. Call (816) 968-1167.
Note: Battles of the Korean War ana both volumes of Faces of Victory are sold out. Try the Internet or used-book stores.
Above: VFW Post 680 members Chuck McAfee, Vaughn Binzer and Jim Vannoy (not pictured) conducted a series of classes about the Vietnam War for students at Dunbar High School in Lexington, Ky. Guest speakers are always popular.
Left VFWs Programs Department has a guide available to aid VFW members when visiting school classrooms to make presentations. One of that department's special projects, it provides all you need to know about conducting a mutually rewarding visit.…