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Lesson 8~Writing a_ Sfrong Conclusion


1. To understand the value of a concise and effective conclusion to your essay. 2. To learn to avoid repeating points or adding new ones when concluding your essay.

Writing a Strong Conclusion
The primary source documents for this lesson are displayed on the next three pages. All of the exercises for this lesson are based on these primary sources and the background information provided here.

INTRODUCING THE LESSON THE PRIMARY SOURCES AND THE EXERCISES The eleven primary source documents for this lesson all deal with the major wars the United States has fought in the years since 1939. The photos, editorial cartoons, letters and other statements are all included here to help illustrate the way warfare was seen by Americans over the course of this period. That is, the documents are not focused on the military conflicts themselves so much as they are on the impact of those conflicts on America and the general feelings of Americans about the nation's wars.


As you know, the final four lessons in this workbook focus on the key tasks in organizing and writing an entire essay. This is the last of these lessons, which have introduced the following key tasks: Lesson 5 Lesson 6 Taking notes and creating a clear essay organization. paragraph based on

Writing an effective introductory your thesis statement.

Lesson 7

Writing the internal paragraphs of your essay and using transitions to link them together effectively. Writing a strong conclusion.

Lesson 8


The primary sources and the exercises for this lesson will help you see the importance of an effective conclusion to your DBO essay. 1. Look back at your introductory paragraph. Your conclusion refocus on the DBa topic and on your thesis about it. should

2. Reword key points in both the DBO and your thesis, and sum up the way the evidence backs up your thesis. 3. Do NOT simply restate points you have already made. Also, do NOT add new evidence or specifics at this point. 4. Try to find a simple and forceful way to call attention to your overall thesis and its significance.


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Lessorl"8; Writing·a Strong -Conclu$io·n~~ -" ,_ ~ ~ =_ -; ~ 2_::'

The Changing Face of America's Wars: 1939-1975
Document 1
General Douglas MacArthur wading ashore in Philippines in 1944 to show he had returned as he had promised to do. Dear Mom, I guess 22 years ago today was a pretty important day for both of us. But after all, it was only the start ... a whole lifetime in one sensebecause you and I shared the same life and it's left me wanting no more. It's an awfully solemn mood in which to write a letter, Mom, but then it's not that I've lost the willingness to look at the humorous side of it, so much as to agree with your slant of things as in your last letter. It makes a guy think, all right, all of it. Like today - of all days - the rather determined and prolonged efforts of a sniper to erase me from the company roster. Artillery and machine guns can never be quite so personal as a persistent sniper. And it makes every fellow here play his real part - not that part that he'd like to play.

The Documents

Document 4

Document 2
Men on the beach at Normandy during the D-Day landing on June 6, 1944.

It's like you wrote, Mom, you talk your ethics and you live them; and then the day comes when you feel they ask too much - they ought to be modified - they're right but they're superhuman. And believe it or not, Mom - it sounds like a very irrelevant reason, December 5, 1944, perhaps, but that's really the main reason I tried so long to get into the army. To join so much in the action that there would be no moral tie to the ten commandments, as it were- to base my actions on a rawer creed - or rather lack of creed - as Chas. would say, live honestly with myself. But I think the beauty of it is that when the going shades off into the rough, then the old creed comes shining through. And it's easy to see that nothing's changed. Quite the contrary - that the old law was built from out of the same indecency; that it is quite the logical development from this realistic off-color life of ours. In fact, I think it's proof that to know one extreme, its antithesis must first be realized.

Document 3
French citizens greeting U.S. soldier, ·1944.

And it means that everybody shares the same universals - hope, love, humor, faith. Being 22 is to have a chance to hit everything, no holds barred. And it's damned comforting to have made the loop of most of the attitudes towards things, and come out near where you started. Pretty convinced I'm grown up, ain't I, Mom? Well, I still count on your tucking me into bed when I get home. Love, Dick A letter home from Pfc. Richard Cowan in Belgium, December 5, 1944. This wasjust days before the "Battle of the Bulge." Cowan was killed in this battle after courageous actions for which he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Reprinted by permission of Robert Cowan. This letter is reproduced in War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence fromArnerica's Wars, edited by Andrew Carroll (Scribner, 2001), P 265.

All photos this page courtesy of the National Archives


The Documents

Document 5
An editorial cartoon appearing just days after the North Koreans attacked South Korea.
Fitzpatrick in the Sf. Louis Post-Dispatch

The weapons squad leader points out Communist-led North Korean position to his machine gun crew. 1950
The National Archives

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Document 7
An editorial cartoon comments on the search for a settlement of the Korean War as of December 1952.
Fitzpatrick in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch





The Documents










tA young lieutenant, his leg burned by an exploding Viet Cong white phosphorous booby trap, is treated by a medic. 1966 The National Archives

tDocument 9
Viet Cong prisoner under guard and waiting to be questioned. He was captured during attacks on the South Vietnamese capital city that were part of the Tet uprising, 1968. The National Archives




Document 10
To the rioting, destructive arsonists of college buildings window breaking goons, ROTC objectors and saddest of all that you the arsonists are the murderers of the four students of your college. It is your actions that are and were responsible for their deaths. Dissenting is one thing but burning and destroying and throwing missiles like bottles, bricks, cement chunks, etc., can kill as well as bullets. The National Guard did not come to Kent College on their own but on demand from your President of the college who called for help when the campus police were unable to stem you riotous destructive burning goons. It is you rioters who who are responsible for forcing the Guard to protect their lives from your violence .... We are disgusted to pay taxes for college rioters. One of the many millions of disgusted taxpayers May 1970 postcard from an Ohio resident to the President of the Kent State student body. In the Lynde Lyke Papers, Kent State University.

Document 11
Please convey the following message to your student body: We wish to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the people of Kent State University for the loss they have suffered. We know there is nothing we can do to relieve the sorrow you feel, but perhaps you may take some comfort in knowing that we, like so many of our brothers and sisters around the nation and the world, feel the loss as though it were our own. We the students of Western shall dedicate ourselves anew to the goals for which the four students died - an end to the genocidal American encroachment in Southeast Asia. Do not lose heart. We can, we will, we must triumph in the end. May 5, 1970, resolution passed by a meeting of students at Western Washington State College. In the Lynde Lyke Papers, Kent State University.

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Student Workbook Page / -,'






. Le'sson 8:)Nriling a Strong Conclusion;~


Choosing Your Conclusion
To write a good conclusion to a DBO essay, first look back at your introductory paragraph. This will focus you again on the question and your thesis. Your conclusion should refer in some way to both, and it should comment on how the evidence you have presented supports your thesis. Do NOT simply restate points you have already made. Also do NOT add new evidence or specifics at this point. Try instead to find a simple and forceful way to call attention to your thesis and how you have backed it up. In the box is a DBO based on the documents for this lesson. Below it is an essay minus a conclusion. Normally, a DBO essay will be a bit longer and more detailed than this. But this one will be easier to work with for now. On the second page of this exercise are three possible conclusions to the essay. Choose the one you think is best and explain your choices in the space provided. The Question Compare and contrast common American views of the nation at war during World War II with such views from 1950 to 1975. To what extent did the Cold War help change the way Americans viewed and thought about the nation's wars? During World War II, Americans were mainly united in a war they saw as just, and as a direct threat to the survival of the nation. The Cold War began right after World War II, and it soon made the world a very dangerous place all over again. But the wars arising out of it were different from World War II. And these Cold War conflicts did change the way Americans thought about their nation at war. The Cold War was not the only factor in bringing about this change. But it was a very big factor. Americans had few doubts about the need to fight in World War II with all the strength they could muster. It's true there were ethnic and racial divisions in the U.S. during the war. But for the most part people put those tensions aside to fight for their very survival. The typical photos of the war that we still see now illustrate this spirit - heroic scenes such as Douglas MacArthur returning to the Philippines, or brave soldiers struggling ashore on the beaches of Normandy. Richard Cowan's letter suggests that such photos did reflect the way people actually felt. Cowan was confident about the reasons for fighting, as when he says, "the old creed comes shining through," proving "that everybody shares the same universals - hope, love, humor, faith." After World War II, the Cold War set in. So did fears of nuclear annihilation. The Korean War was a limited conflict. It disrupted a prosperous post-war period for some soldiers. But it did not lead to a total mobilizing of the whole society. Yet the 1950 cartoon here suggests that people also worried about it triggering World War III. The need to avoid this may have kept the war from spreading to China and elsewhere. But it also led to a frustrating stalemate, as the 1952 editorial cartoon indicates. The frustrations of "limited" war grew much stronger during the Vietnam War. Fears about widening the war to China and beyond again kept the conflict from spreading, this time into all of Southeast Asia. But that also meant that North Vietnam could keep its supply lines into the South intact, even in spite of heavy U.S. bombing. Meanwhile, no clear front lines existed. Soldiers were bogged down in endless search and destroy missions. At times, our soldiers felt as if they were fighting an entire society, not an army. Photos of burning villages, women and children fleeing bombs, or young men such as the VC soldier-in Document 9 led many Americans to worry about the justness of the war itself. As the bloodshed went on, many Americans at home grew more and more skeptical about the very purposes of the war. Protests often spilled over- into violence. As Documents 10 and 11 show, bitterness on both sides divided the nation in ways that are still with us. (see second page of this lesson for three alternative conclusions to this essav)

Exercise 1










Lesson 8: Writing a Strong Copclusio~



Choosing Your Conclusion
Below are three conclusions to the DBO essay on the first page of this exercise. Read these through and choose the conclusion that you think best completes the essay. Then in the spaces provided, give a brief explanation of your decision about each of the three conclusions.

Exercise J

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By 1975, America was a very different country from the one that had gone to war in the 1940s. It was an enormously powerful nation. And a whole generation had grown up in a time of great prosperity, These and many other factors all helped to change the way Americans felt about the wars the nation found itself in. But the biggest factor was the Cold War. On the one hand, it seemed to threaten the nation's very survival. Since it was worldwide in scope, however, it also generated many local conflicts, and these often appeared to have little to do with any threat to America itself. Overtime, this made it hard to keep Americans united in the belief that they were fighting a noble cause worthy of the sacrifice of thousands of their soldiers. Did you choose this conclusion? Why or why not? _



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iConclusion 2

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The Vietnam War left the nation deeply divided in a way it never was during World War II. And after Vietnam Americans became involved in other conflicts that seemed remote and of doubtful importance. For example, we never sent our own troops to fight in Central America in the 1980s. But our involvement there in support of the Contra rebels or EI Salvador's military raised all the same bitter arguments that had arisen during Vietnam. The Cold War continued and its effects on the nation continued right up until the fall of the Soviet Union itself in 1991. Did you choose this conclusion? Why or why not? _



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Conclusion 3 The nation was for the most part united in fighting Germany and Japan in World War II. But as we have proved, this unity did not carryover into the two big conflicts to follow, Korea and Vietnam. In Korea, fears of triggering a nuclear war led to frustration and stalemate. And as we showed, the same was even truer of Vietnam. These limited wars in far away lands did not seem as worth fighting to many Americans. They caused deep divisions that are still with us. Did you choose this conclusion? Why or why not? _

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Lesson 8: Writing a Strong Conclusion
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History UnfoldIng - Review Exercise
Here is a chance to apply what you have learned in all eight lessons in this workbook. Below is a checklist of the basic ideas stressed in these lessons. Use this checklist as a set of guidelines for evaluating the essay in Exercise 1 for this lesson (including the conclusion you chose for it). Study the checklist. Also, look back at the instructions for some of the past exercises in this workbook if you need to. Now, next to each item on the checklist, jot down a few notes evaluating the essay in Exercise 1. How effectively does it meet each standard on the checklist? In class, discuss your notes.

Exercise 2

Introductory paragraph Does the paragraph clarify the DBO itself and present a clear thesis, or answer, to that DBO?

Use of Primary Source Documents Are they simply used in a "laundry list" fashion, or are they used thoughtfully to support key ideas and examples?

The Internal Paragraphs - 1 Are these paragraphs organized around main points with supporting details and explanations related to those main points? (Look back at the M-D-E system suggested in Lesson 5 and Lesson 7. But keep in mind that a good paragraph may vary the way it uses these elements.)

The Internal Paragraphs - 2 Are transitions and other phrases used effectively to connect points in a logical way?

Conclusion Does it restate the DBO and thesis in a way that sums up the main ideas without repeating old information or going into new details?



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