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Comparative Perspectives

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History

Students will:
• Evaluate the mood of a country at war.
• Compare and contrast the views of three individuals who had different experiences at war and circumstances as they returned home.
• Analyze the country’s reaction to military personnel when they returned home

Medal of Honor Focus:
Hershel Williams, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division / World War II

Tibor Rubin, Corporal, U.S. Army, Co. 1, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division / Korea

Sammy Davis, Private First Class, U.S. Army, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division / Vietnam War

For the Teacher:
Prepare the room by setting up the video/disc player and writing the following three comments on the board:

1. In World War II the entire nation was behind the war effort, and service members were welcomed home.
2. The Korean War is often called the "forgotten war."
3. American sentiment turned against the Vietnam War and service members were often shunned when they returned home.

The teacher will also place three flip charts in separate corners, one for each war / vignette.

Introductory Activity:
Students will read "The Four Freedoms" by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The teacher will highlight freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear as core
values that provided ideological reasons for opposing the Germans and Japanese in World War II.

The teacher will explain that the Korean War should be viewed in the context of “containment” (George F. Kennan:Soviet
expansionism should be “contained” and eventually capitalism would defeat communism) and the Truman Doctrine
(send economic and military support to countries to fight off communism). The teacher will read the following excerpt
from President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:

"Let every nation know that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose
any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

The teacher should highlight the open-ended commitment of this quotation and ask students to think about this
in relation to the Vietnam War.

Whole Group Activity:
Students will view the vignettes about Medal of Honor recipients Hershel Williams, Tibor Rubin, and Sammy Davis
and take notes about their war experience. Ask students to think about the most memorable moment or memorable
statement during the vignette.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Divide the class into three groups. Set up three stations and rotate groups through the stations. On the flip charts, write:
• What is the key “take-away” or the most important moment or memorable statement
• Answers cannot be repeated. After three minutes have students move to the next board.

Whole Group Activity:
• Ask students to re-assemble and discuss their responses.
• How did the groups differ in their perceptions?
• What are the similarities among recipients?
• What are the differences among the recipients?

Concluding Activity:
Remind students of the comments written on the board at the beginning: In World War II the entire nation was behind
the war effort and service members were welcomed home; the Korean War is often called the forgotten war; and
American sentiment turned against the Vietnam War, and service members were often shunned when they returned home. Ask
students if those circumstances may have influenced the perspectives of these and other Medal of Honor recipients from
these wars, or if their views were independent of the national mood.

Ask students to imagine that they had the opportunity to conduct an interview with any Medal of Honor recipient.
The person may be from any war in which the Medal of Honor was awarded, but the recipient must be a real person,
and the circumstances behind the award must be real. Write a one to two page (200-500 words) response of what
that person thought was the most important value connected with the action that led to the Medal.

Responses to questions, essay

Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.
A copy of The "Four Freedoms," Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to Congress on January 6, 1941
A copy of the X Article, formally titled The Sources of Soviet Conduct, published in Foreign Affairs magazine in July 1947,
    written by George F. Kennan, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States to the USSR, from 1944 to 1946, under
   Ambassador W. Averill Harriman.
A copy of President John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, Friday, January 20, 1961
Board to set up stations for students to annotate observations
Computer with DVD capability, projector, and screen

Extended Activity:
1. Ask students to read excerpts from Killer Angels (by Michael Shaara, 1974), a historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg
during the Civil War, or view the clip from the movie Gettysburg at the scene in which Colonel Chamberlain is convincing the prisoners
from Maine to join his regiment in battle. What is the significance of the Gettysburg battle, and why were they fighting? Discuss
which issues are universal. Gettsyburg. Dir. Robert Maxwell. Perf. Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger. New Line Cinema, 1993.

2. Have students watch the scene from the movie Gettysburg in which Colonel Chamberlain is on Little Round Top when the
Confederates begin their charge to flank the Union Army. Discuss the courage and decision-making of the various soldiers,
the military charges, and decision to “man bayonets.”

3. Have students locate the battles in which the three Medal of Honor recipients in the videos fought. What role did geography
play in both these battles?

4. Have students research the technology of these battles, including weaponry and medicine. What role did weapons, technology,
and medicine play in both these battles?

Quote: "Moral Courage - Doing what has to be done, because it is the right thing to do-is the mark of a true hero." - Thomas G. Kelley, Navy-Vietnam War

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words