For Love of Country

6, 7, 8
This lesson describes the military's role in our country and highlights service to country as one of the most sacrificial forms of "voluntary action intended for the common good." 
Focus question: What is a citizen's responsibility to participate in civil society?
PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • identify initiatives to support veterans and/or service members and their families.
  • write a letter to a veteran thanking them for their service.
  • copies of the handout below "A Brief History of the Military in America" 
Home Connection 

Young people may ask their parents for more information about any relatives or neighbors who currently serve in the Armed Forces. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the following quote on the chalkboard. Let the learners discuss what the quote might mean and who might have said it.

    “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

    Explain that Nathan Hale was a teacher and a captain in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, who was captured by the British and admitted being a spy for General George Washington. British General William Howe ordered the execution of Hale, who was hanged the next day. Although Hale's spying mission ended in failure, his patriotism made him a hero among the colonists fighting for independence.

  2. Read the brief history of the military in the handout below.

    Young people work in groups to find other examples from history or from current events in which people have given their lives or made other significant sacrifices for their country. Have each group share one of their examples.

  3. Discuss service to one's country as a form of philanthropy. Define philanthropy as "giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good."

  4. Look for local examples of nonprofit organizations that support soldiers, veterans, and their families (do a Google search). Discuss the role of these nonprofits and how they get their start and funding (read several "about" statements on their websites).

  5. Using a group decision-making process, choose one of the programs that forwards mail to service members.

  6. Each person may write a personalized letter expressing gratitude for a soldier's service. The letters may demonstrate knowledge of the history and role of the member’s service branch.

  7. Send the edited letters to the nonprofit organization selected.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 State the purpose of a mission statement and describe how civil society organization mission statements relate to philanthropy.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.6 Describe how the founding documents and fundamental democratic principles encourage citizens to act philanthropically.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.