During the lesson featured in this video (2015), the class focused on the meaning and importance of “context” in historical study and perspectives.
Class discussion addressed “why Americans volunteered to serve in the U.S. military during World War II” with special emphasis on the experiences of Japanese Americans, Navajo Code Talkers, and Russell Stokum of Pennsylvania (who Farina King interviewed). The class examined video clips of interviews with World War II veterans of these diverse backgrounds to understand “why they joined the U.S. military.”
King discusses how her Diné family sparked her passion for history, especially as she has tried to understand her Uncle Albert and Uncle George’s experiences as Navajo Code Talkers. Albert Smith (1924-2013), King’s paternal uncle, was interviewed extensively. See, for example, the “Navajo Code Talker Albert Smith Oral History Interview” (2004).
This is a brief video clip of Uncle Albert who explains how he was cautious about what he told regarding his time in the war:
Here is the first video clip from King’s interview and oral history with WWII veteran Russell Stokum from February 22, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona:
Here is the second video clip of the oral history with Russell Stokum (2015):
Student groups responded to the following questions, using and sharing electronic devices to access sources through the course blackboard website (and then re-grouped for an entire class discussion during the last part of class to share insights and findings):
What does “context” mean?
Contextualize your responses to the following historical questions. Refer to primary sources available in the course blackboard content folder, “World War II: Battles Abroad and at Home.”
Why did Americans volunteer to serve in the U.S. military during World War II?
Why did Russell L. Stokum volunteer to serve in the war?
Why did Japanese-Americans (the Nisei) volunteer to serve in the war?
Why did Native Americans such as the Navajo Code Talkers serve in the war?