VFW Publications: Reference Tools for the Classroom

Article excerpt

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. …