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Cultural Background and Our Perception

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, Language Arts

Students will:
• Describe the backgrounds of Medal of Honor recipients.
• Analyze the importance of the recipients' cultural background in their service.
• Identify and describe the characteristics displayed.
• Analyze how the personal backgrounds of the Medal of Honor recipients did not matter
   in their willingness to serve.

Medal of Honor Focus:
James Swett, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Fighting Squadron 221, Marine
   Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Michael Colalillo, Private 1st Class, U.S. Army, Co. C, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division

George Sakato, Private, U.S. Army, Co. E, 442nd Regimental Combat Team / World War II

Introductory Activity:
Discuss with students how a person’s cultural background affects our perception of that person.

Small Group/Individual Activity:
Divide students into three groups. Each group will cycle through three different stations representing
each recipient, reading the profiles and citations of James Swett, Michael Colalillo, and George
Sakato. Students will determine where the recipients were born, describe their cultural background,
and summarize why they received the Medal of Honor.

Whole Group Activity:
Students will view the vignettes depicting the three recipients. Students will discuss the diversity
of these recipients and what can be learned.

Whole Group Activity:
Students will describe what they have discussed and how they can relate this information to their
own lives.

Individual/Small Group Activity:
Students will write a reflection on what they have learned about how a person’s background affects
their opinion of people. They will consider to what extent a person's background may affect his/her
relationship in new situations.

Concluding Activity:
Students share the reflection with other students.



Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006

In Their Own Words - James Swett

In Their Own Words - MIke Colalillo

In Their Own Words - George Sakato