Now it is your turn!
Contact a veteran friend or family member to conduct your own oral history and create a piece of art inspired by the stories they shared.
We encourage all artistic ability levels to participate.
Need help getting inspired?
Student Question Guide
Interviews with individuals who have first-hand knowledge of an event can provide interesting details or perspectives that might never be found in a textbook. One way to learn more about the war or life in the military is to ask a veteran, someone who has actually served in the Armed Forces. Each veteran has their own unique story. Your mission is to learn their veteran story and find inspiration to create an art piece to represent that story. Listed below are some helpful tips and some possible questions for your interview.
- Come to the interview with plenty of questions prepared.
- Speak clearly and at a reasonable speed.
- Be polite and respectful of the fact that sometimes it can be difficult for veterans to talk about their experiences; especially if it was during a war. Never ask questions like, “How many people have you killed?”
- If possible, record your interview and then write down the responses to the questions later when you have more time.
- Make sure to thank the individual.
Should be in biography. Ask clarifying questions as needed
- What is your full name and highest rank?
- What branch of the Armed Forces did you serve in?
- What unit were you in?
Joining the Military and Training
- Where and when did you join the service?
- Why did you join the military?
- Where did you receive your training?
- What was training like?
- Is there anything unusual about it that you remember?
Daily Life and Missions
- Where were you stationed?
- What did you do on an average day?
- Please describe what life in your unit was like.
- What do you remember most about your time in the military?
- What was your most important piece of equipment? Why?
- What was the food like?
- What was the hardest thing that you had to get used to?
- Please describe your unit’s mission and your recollection of your duties within it.
- What is the best story you like to tell about your service?
- Recall any unique traditions in your unit.
- What was the most important thing your unit did?
- If you took part in combat action, tell where, when, and against whom.
- Please describe your first combat experience and your reaction: How did you and your unit regard enemy troops as fighters?
Leaving the Military and Life Afterwards
- When did you leave the service, and why?
- Were you involved in any community organizations before or after your service?
- What did you do after you were discharged?
Veteran Perspective on Civic Dispositions
Civic dispositions are the understanding of your own rights and the appreciation of the right of others. Civic dispositions are personal commitments to ideals important in a democracy.
After the interview, reflect on their life experience and how it has affected their civic dispositions. Examine your own beliefs. They might be different from the person you interviewed. What are you committed to?
Rule of Law — The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior. – Oxford Dictionary
- What laws or rules did you need to follow as a soldier?
Civic Duty — Responsibilities of a citizen?
- Were your drafted or did you enlist?
- If you enlisted, why did you enlist?
- Do you think military service is a responsibility of every citizen or it is a higher calling?
- Were you part of any community organizations before or after your service?What did you do with those organizations? Why did you choose to work with them?
- Did you pay attention to the political climate before or during your service?
- Do you remember any large political events during your time of service?
- Do you pay attention to politics today?
Military History and Art
Military History has had a significant impact on art. As a storytelling and therapeutic medium, art has
the ability to allow the viewer to share in the feelings of those who have served.
Creating Exhibit Labels
Now it is time to share your art and story! Here are some helpful tips for labeling your art piece.
- Ensure font is easy to read, large size
- The style, colors, and “look” of the label matches your content
- Shorty, catchy title
- 50 word maximum for art label (On average visitor’s spend 11 seconds reading an exhibit label)
- 100 word maximum for veteran biography
- Carefully proofread text