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The Victory Gardens of WWII

Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

The Science and Technology of WWII

Visit our new interactive website to learn about wartime technical and scientific advances that forever changed our world.

Operation Footlocker

Turn your students into history detectives as they ponder over the origins and uses of these intriguing pieces of WWII history.

The National WWII Museum asks…
How Can Your Community Achieve Victory?

Victory Through Selflessness
Second Place: Cheyenne Tibbitts, 11th grade, Salmon High School,
Salmon, ID

He stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Hornet with the brilliantly shining B-25 bombers meticulously lined out before him. In a few minutes he would be sitting in the pilot seat of one, silently brooding behind the steering wheel. The fear simmering inside him would only intensify, he was sure. He didn’t know if his body could tolerate more of the adrenaline already streaming through it, threatening to burst his veins. Yet he knew an even more powerful, concentrated adrenaline would soon be pulsing, pumping through him, from the tips of his toes to the ends of his crewcut hairs.

She’s standing in the pitifully painted hallway of her high school, staring down at her perfectly manicured toes and the black, velvet, peep-toe pumps splendidly displaying them. The less-than-euphemistic words of her best friend pierce her stylishly-adorned ears and vibrate through her like an electric shockwave. Peering up under heavily mascara-coated lashes, she meets the sorrowful eyes of her friend’s victim, a plainly-dressed girl with hot, embarrassed tears skimming down her mortified, flushing cheeks.

Doubt reverberated through his military-trained mind as he fearfully walked up to the door of his “Mitchell” twin-engine bomber. Questioning feelings fluttered through him as he pondered his future. He knew the danger–he was flying on a one-way ticket. Fear was stealthily seeping through him, seeming to dissolve the strength built up in his fully-formed muscles...until he looked around at his fellow aviators. Resolve, determination, and bravery beamed from their faces like brilliant sunshine beams through the fading clouds of a storm. Suddenly, a vigorous, powerful energy recharged his body, loading him with a surge of confidence.

She fights a moral battle within herself and questions her strength. Does she have the courage to stop this shockingly cruel act? Terminating this harshness will mean her prestigious social life will flee from her like a burning paper in the wind. Can she sacrifice this piquant role she plays so well? The jealous, envying stares she attracts like a magnet give her a strange satisfaction. She thrives on the attention poured upon her like a royal, golden rain shower. Can she throw it all away in an instant?

On April 18, 1942, a group of incredibly courageous American pilots and their spirited leader, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, set out to fulfill a seemingly impossible mission. Defying all odds, they daringly took flight from an extremely shortened runway on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the middle of the dense Pacific Ocean. Throwing their natural human tendencies out the windows of their B-25 bombers, they selflessly placed their precious lives on the line. Valorously flying over enemy territory, they bombed the crucial Japanese military targets, having enough fuel to complete the mission but not enough to return home.

The Doolittle Raiders were impressively heroic and their story is exciting and appealing. But it’s not just a story. Those magnificent pilots were selfless enough to risk their lives for victory. Very aware of the possibility they may never return to the United States, they still ignited their plane engines, gallantly took flight, and soared selflessly.

As she looks around at the growing, attentive crowd, her stomach flip-flops and her heart pounds violently against her core, like double-timed fists to a punching bag. Despite these irregular distresses in her body, her mind knows what she has to do. So she calls out in protest to her friend, “Stop! Leave her alone!”

The shocked faces of her peers galvanize the sound from the hallway, leaving only a deafening silence in its place. Her palms sweat as she repeats the plea to her perplexed friend. Her friend’s angry eyes bluntly glare at her and she feels an extreme heat creep deep into her cheeks. Then suddenly, like a rippling wave across the vast ocean, one after another, the shocked faces in the crowded hallway turn to ones full of admiration. Genuine smiles beam her way and she feels a gentle, praising pat on her back.

In a perfect high school, the timid bookworm dwelling in the back of the classroom wouldn’t have to camouflage himself as the cool kids walk by. The apparently flawless cheerleader wouldn’t have to wake at ridiculous hours to maintain her reputable image and could admit that she actually loved the required reading of A Tale of Two Cities in English class. In a perfect high school, he would have friends and she could be herself.

But high school isn’t perfect. Some still get tripped as they walk down the hallway. Some still get pushed around, some still get labeled, and occasionally some backs still gets pasted with “kick me” signs. The top of the towering social ladder is still proudly displaying its desirable, yet rather meaningless prize of coveted popularity just waiting to be snatched at the top. There is still that unstoppable desire that insistently drives everyone upward to get it, causing the unnecessary battles between opposing cliques, the ruthless name-calling, and the harsh insults.

To achieve victory over these teenage forms of bullying and abuse, so prevalent in high school, students need to follow the example of the Doolittle Raiders. Obviously, most will never be asked to selflessly place their life on the line or be required to go on a mission with little hope of return, but everyday each student has an opportunity to make small decisions that can have a monumental impact on the life of someone else. When students can make the decision to put another person before him or herself, they automatically eliminate the rapacious race for popularity and stop destructive bullying in its tracks. To conquer this enemy, to win this battle, students must become selfless servers, not of the sky, but of the school.

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