NM Times
Military Experience
Pacific Theater

Lessons of Bataan:
Create a memorial

Across New Mexico, structures of all types, including roads, bridges, buildings, and dams, were re-named in honor of the sacrifices of Bataan. Other memorials were built specifically in memory of Bataan, Corregidor, and its defenders. While memorials designed for Bataan commemorate specific aspects of the ordeal, other memorials simply promote remembrance as we pass, perhaps daily, the Bataan Memorial Building, over the Bataan Bridge, or along the Bataan Highway.

Despite these differences, all these memorials ask us to remember Bataan. But it is fitting to ask: "What, specifically, are we to remember?" This lesson challenges students to reflect on the lessons learned from Bataan and to develop a memorial to bring those lessons to others.

Students will:

  • Interpret events and issues based on the historical, economic, political, social, and geographic context of the participants (SS I-D, 9-12:4).
  • Demonstrate the ability to examine history from the perspectives of the participants (SS Benchmark I-D Performance Standard 7:2).
  • Use the problem solving process to identify a problem; gather information, suggest solutions, list and consider advantages and disadvantages of solutions, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution using technology to present findings (SS I-D, 5-8:7-2).

Students will:
  • Research memorials and their designs
  • Brainstorm what lessons Bataan teaches us as individuals, as communities, and as a nation, and narrow that list down to lessons that are most meaningful to that group
  • In small groups, design a memorial that reflects the key lessons and present that design to the class.
Memorial evaluation
Memorial planner
Presentation materials (posters, computer with presentation software, etc)

  1. View Memorial slideshow and video under Military Experience from Battle for Bataan Web site or CD.
  2. View Chloe Huber's imovie about Bataan and read the article about her memorial.
  3. Review article on Memorial March.
  4. Review the article about memorial design.
    Class discussion
  5. Discuss the purpose of memorials. Include in this discussion memorials that are non- traditional such as events, printed material, Web sites, ceremonies, altars, etc.
    Group work
  6. Divide the class into groups of 2-5 students.
  7. Students research memorials and complete the Memorial Evaluation (each student should research a memorial).
  8. Students brainstorm lessons of Bataan.
  9. From the brainstorm list, students chose 3-5 lessons that are the most important to them.
  10. Plan a memorial to Bataan based on a lesson from Bataan or a combination of lessons.

Groups present their designs to the class, explaining symbolism and describing what the lesson represents to them. Groups should include how they addressed issues in the landscape such as noise distractions, use of natural terrain, etc.


Students complete a self-assessment after planning their memorial.

Group presentation assessment

Make a memorial. As a class, create one of the memorials designed in this lesson. Select one with most meaning to the class, to the community, or most feasible.

View a memorial. Plan and take a field trip to a memorial in your town.

Oral history. Invite a veteran into your classroom to talk about their wartime experiences. Prepare questions to ask, take an oral history. Ask them what they learned from their war experiences. Contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars post for names.

Who are they? What do you know about ROTC, National Guard, Army Reserve, and the U.S. Army? Research these 4 organizations (one student group per organization, can include other services and their reserve arms), emphasizing how they work together, who they recruit, and how the training differs for each organization. Explain how these branches of the services are organized (battalions, units, regiments, divisions, etc.). Your local military recruiter might be a good source of information. Present your findings to the class.

Why Bataan? What's in a name? Soldiers who were on the Bataan Peninsula during the siege of Bataan were stationed elsewhere in the Philippines before the withdrawal into Bataan in late 1941. They endured brutal prison camps throughout the Japanese empire in addition to the Death March. They starved and slaved in factories and mines through brutal beatings and torture. But the entire period is often referred to as "Bataan" and memorials often invoke the Death March. Why are Bataan and the Death March considered symbolic of all the entire ordeal suffered by the defenders of Bataan?