Inscription on the Robert Gould Shaw Monument, Boston Common

“To the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry:

The white officers, taking life and honor in their hands, cast in their lot with men of a despised race unproved in war, and risked death as inciters of servile insurrection if taken prisoners, besides encountering all the common perils of camp march and battle.

The black rank and file volunteered when disaster clouded the Union cause, served without pay for eighteen months till given that of white troops, faced threatened enslavement if captured, were brave in action, patient under heavy and dangerous labors, and cheerful amid hardships and privations.

Together they gave to the nation and the world undying proof that Americans of African descent possess the pride, courage, and devotion of the patriot soldier.  One hundred and eighty thousand such Americans enlisted under the Union flag in 1863-1865.”

Charles William Eliot

Do you need something to teach?  Right now?

Have your students paraphrase the above inscription.

See below for a list of short stories (and a poem) that explore the idea of courage.


Course: The American Civil War

Word Count: 1,835 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The country has been torn apart by Civil War. The fighting between the North and the South takes a terrible toll on its people. The short story Nightmare is the story of Sergeant Claudius Sears and his struggle to make it through the night on the eve of battle.

The Test

Course: Locked Up

Word Count: 1,431 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: fiction

Summary: How are you going to survive on the inside of a maximum-security juvenile correctional facility? Especially when someone decides to target you. Do you fight back? Do you ignore the threats? Ask for help? Brian is in uncharted territory. He only knows one thing – he wants to be free.

Chicken Pax

One of the greatest poems in the English language.  It is a tale of courage in the face of doom.  And chickens.