Honoring Service, Achievements, and Sacrifice: A WWI Virtual Field Trip

In this activity students use an ArcGIS Online Story Map to take a virtual “field trip” to the Meuse Argonne battlefield where they explore the sites and images of service, achievements, and sacrifices made by American Expeditionary Forces during the Meuse Argonne Offensive.  During this “tour” students have the opportunity to see 3-D visualizations of WWI tunnels, trenches, bunkers, and ruins; follow a go-cam video showing where American dough boys once fought; and learn why ABMC monuments and cemeteries were established along the Western Front to commemorate and guard American overseas service, achievement, and sacrifice.

Guiding Questions

  1. What evidence is still visible on French landscape from World War I and the Meuse Argonne Offensive?
  2. How does this evidence help us understand the service, achievement, and sacrifices made by the American Expeditionary Forces along the Western Front?
  3. Why was the Meuse Argonne Cemetery built in the Meuse Argonne region of France?
  4. What is the Montfaucon American Memorial?  Where is it located and why was it built?
  5. How do the stories of those buried at the Meuse Argonne Cemetery help us understand the service, achievement, and sacrifice AEF soldiers made during World War I?

Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • Identify and explain what evidence from WWI  is still present on France’s landscape nearly one hundred years after the Great was fought.
  • Identify the Meuse Argonne Cemetery and explain why it was built along the Western Front and discuss the role it serves today.
  • Use primary source evidence to explain the significance of the Meuse Argonne Offensive, the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, and Montfaucon American Memorials.
  • Use primary source evidence to identify examples of service, achievement, and sacrifice during the Meuse Argonne Offensive.
  • Explain why the Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to Freddy Stowers and other American soldiers.


*Before using this lesson live make sure you test drive the online maps and check your technology functionality.

  1.  Pass out the “Honoring Service, Achievements, and Sacrifice” student directions and student answer documents to each student.
  2. Have students go to http://arcg.is/22cCsX.  Choose and load the map, “Honoring Service, Achievements, and Sacrifice” Story Map. (Do not use Internet Explorer. It has compatibility issues with ArcGIS Online.)
  3. Demonstrate for the students how to use the interactive Story map.
  4. Explain to the students that the Meuse Argonne offensive was the largest land offensive in American history and helped bring an end to World War I.  The battle took place along one of the most highly fortified areas of Western Front and the battle experienced over 120,000 casualties.  Following WWI the US Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission to serve as the “guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials and to honor the service, achievements, and sacrifice of US Armed Forces. During the next 45 minutes (teacher discretion) they will interact with this map and take a “virtual field trip” to visit the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, the Montfaucon American Memorial, and some of sites and individuals that epitomize American service, achievement, and sacrifice during World War I.
  5. Have students navigate the Story Map using the “Honoring Service, Achievements, and Sacrifice” instructions and answer document. Monitor their progress by providing technical, content, and primary source analysis support.


When the students have completed the activity review the questions and answers while having the ArcGIS Online map projected for your class. Interact with the map to highlight areas mentioned during the discussion/review.  Key discussion points include, but are not be limited to:

  • What did you learn about World War I and the Meuse Argonne Offensive during this “field trip”?
  • What evidence is still visible on France’s landscape that remind folks that the Western Front and one of the most important battles of the entire war occurred?
  • What examples of service, achievement, and sacrifice by American forces was displayed during the field trip?
  • There were 5 important “heights” that needed to be taken in order to control this region. They were:  Montfaucon, Romagne Heights, Heights of the Meuse, Argonne Forest, and Barricourt Heights.
  • Why is Freddy Stowers important in American History?  Did anything surprise you about this story and Medal of Honor? How about the other headstones and soldiers you visited during your field trip?  Did anything surprise you?

What role do you think ABMC, the cemeteries, and memorials play in commemorating American service, achievement, and sacrifice?


Students will complete the attached question frame and the teacher will review and grade their recorded answers and contributions to the classroom discussion.


  • You can complete this activity using one computer and LCD projector.
  • Complete the lessons:  Where? Why There? The Meuse Argonne”, “It’s Now or Never: The  Meuse Argonne Offensive, and/or “Geography is War: The Case of the Lost Battalion

Materials Needed