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The Symbol of My Responsibilities

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School Social Studies, Language Arts, Leadership

One Class Session

Students will:

  • explain what the flag means to them
  • understand the responsibilities associated with American citizenship

Medal of Honor Focus: Tommy Norris, U.S. Navy, Vietnam War

Introductory Activity:
Put students into groups of three to four. Have each group discuss and then write down the differences between a right and a responsibility. Create two columns on the board, “Rights” and “Responsibilities”, and then ask students to come up and write in the columns what their rights and responsibilities are as a citizen of this country. Lead a discussion to clarify and help determine the differences between the two categories.

Whole Group Activity:
Show Tommy Norris’s Living History for the class. Invite them to think about different actions in the story that relate to the six character values and how they tie into rights and responsibilities as they view the video. At the conclusion of the video, have students read Tommy Norris’s Portrait of Valor.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
After they have watched the video and read the Portrait of Valor, the students should form back into their groups and discuss what they learned about Tommy Norris.

Allow some time for discussion; then hand out the flag worksheet. Have students work together to identify examples of each core value in Tommy Norris’s story and finish the statement WE THE PEOPLE in the union part of the flag. Have them write individually two to three sentences about their responsibilities as a citizen.

Concluding Activity:
Have students answer the thought question at the bottom of the sheet. If time permits, lead a short class discussion with students sharing responses. Have students color the flags accordingly and post them around the classroom.


Tommy Norris Portrait of Valor and Living History video, worksheet

Extended Activity:
Direct students to explore on the Internet different poems about the flag. Have students write their own short acrostic poem or free verse poem about the flag.

Living History Video

Portrait of Valor - Tommy Norris

Additional Resources