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A Tale Told Two Ways: Written Citation vs. Living History Video

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Foundational

One Class Session


Students will:

  • read and analyze a Medal of Honor citation
  • predict what will happen next based on foreshadowing from the video
  • organize the parts of a citation into the correct order
  • identify strategies used for putting the citation together
  • define key vocabulary within the citation
  • identify the actions for which the individual received the medal

Medal of Honor Focus: Salvatore Giunta, U.S. Army, War on Terror (Afghanistan)

For the Teacher:
Prepare several copies of the Medal of Honor citation for Salvatore Giunta, which is included in the lesson pdf below. Mix up the citation, and put the pieces into an envelope. One envelope will be prepared for each group of students to reconstruct. Also, preview the Salvatore Giunta video and be prepared to pause at 5:30.

Note: The split versions of the video are available in the Living History Section below.

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 received the medal. The document will use language and terminology specific to the military.

Play the video of Salvatore Giunta. For this lesson, the students are shown only part of the video which leads  them up to the actions of the ambush (5:30). At that point, stop the video and ask the students to predict what will happen next based on foreshadowing from the video.

Small Group Activity:
Have students work in small groups to reconstruct the citation. Each group will remove all sections from the envelope and work together to place the sections in the correct order. Students should discuss the strategies they use to put the citation in order and read through the citation once they have each piece placed.

Whole Group Activity:
When all groups have their pieces organized, reveal the parts of the citation one piece at a time for groups to self- correct. Discuss with students which strategies they used for putting their citations together, such as opening and closing paragraphs; transition words; beginning, middle, and end; or finding the climax of the event. Discuss the portion of the video that they have seen so far and ask if they were able to successfully predict the events within the citation.

Provide copies of the official citation for students to reread individually. Discuss vocabulary that is unfamiliar and provide meaning for terms. Ask students to identify the action for which Salvatore Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor. Also, discuss who might be the intended audience for the citation.

Following the work with the written citation, play the remainder of the video. While watching, students should look for details that further enhance their understanding of the Recipient’s action.

After watching, discuss details revealed in the video that are not in the citation. Ask students to compare their reaction to the citation as opposed to the video:

  • In what ways does the first-person narrator change the audience’s engagement with the Recipient?
  • How does seeing and hearing the narrator affect the audience’s emotional response to the events?
  • What effects does the inclusion of actual war footage have on the overall narrative?
  • What is the argument for presenting the story both ways?

Concluding Activity:
Students will write a personal reflection or a formal essay about how the video is different from the official citation, supporting their observation with details revealed in the video but not in the citation.

  • Sample reflection prompt: Which format more clearly explains to you why Salvatore Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor? Support your answer with examples from the video or citation.
  • Sample essay prompt: Which format is most effective for recounting the story of a Medal of Honor action? Why did you choose that format? Consider both the voice of the narrator and the intended audience. Provide details from the citation or video to support your choice.

Reflection or essay


Salvatore Giunta Citation and Living History video

Living History Video

Living History Video

Additional Resources