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Citation Investigation: Analyzing Narrative

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Foundational

One Class Session

Students will:

  • read and analyze a Medal of Honor citation
  • organize parts of the citation into the correct order
  • identify the act of heroism for which the Medal of Honor was received
  • define key vocabulary in a Recipient’s citation
  • evaluate the narrative for audience, purpose, and style

Medal of Honor Focus: Gary Beikirch, U.S. Army, Vietnam War. Any Recipient can be substituted for this lesson, but the teacher will need to adapt the worksheet accordingly. Note that this lesson is also appropriate for Recipients for whom there is no living history video, including those who were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

For the Teacher:
Find an appropriate Recipient citation and space the text so that the citation can easily be cut into 4 to 6 sections; print out several copies. (Gary Beikirch’s citation is included in the lesson pdf; those of other Recipients can be found here.) The citation pieces should be shuffled and placed in an envelope.

Introductory Activity:
Introduce students to a Medal of Honor citation. It may be described as a birth certificate, which is specific to one person. The Medal of Honor citation is the official government document that describes the actions for which the Recipient was awarded the medal. The document will use language and terminology specific to the military.

Small Group Activity:
Place the students into groups and hand out the envelopes. Each group will remove all the sections from the envelope. Students will then work together to place the sections in the correct order of the official government citation. It is suggested that teachers time this activity (in a game-like format).

Whole Group Activity:
When all students have completed organizing their citations, the teacher will ask the students what strategies they used to place the sections in the correct order. Possible answers include looking for beginning, middle, and end words, or transition words like “first,” “second,” etc. The teacher will reveal the actual order of the citation, one section at a time, noting when groups are no longer in contention for the correctly completed citation.

Small Group Activity:
Give students a paper copy of the Recipient’s citation and the Text-Dependent Questions Worksheet about the citation. The students will work in groups to complete the worksheet, being sure to select direct quotations from the citation to support their responses.

Concluding Activity:
The teacher will discuss the students’ answers for the worksheet and discuss the action for which the Medal of Honor was awarded. Each student will write a summary of the act of heroism using key words and phrases from the citation.

Worksheet, student summary

Recipient citation, worksheet

Extended Activities:
Ask students to rewrite the citation using a different voice, medium, or audience.

Complete the same activity for a different Medal of Honor Recipient.

Additional Resources