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Sacrifice and Commitment Through Volunteerism

Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, Language Arts, World-War-II

Students will:
• Examine volunteerism.
• Examine the mission of a volunteer organization and how it works.
• Brainstorm ways to participate in community service.
• Create a consensus definition for interdependence.

Medal of Honor Focus: Vernon Baker, First Lieutenant U.S. Army, 370th Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division / World War II

Introductory Activity:
Show a clip from the movie, Cast Away, if available.

Respond to the following question, through writing or whole group discussion: "If you were stranded and had
no supplies for six months, which necessities would you miss the most? Explain your response." The teacher
will write the items students would wish for on the board.

Small Group Activity/Individual Activity:
Pose the following discussion questions to the small group. Respond to them with a partner or on paper:

1. What creative ways would you use to obtain these items?
2. In what situation would you most likely experience something like this dilemma?

Whole Group Activity:
Discuss answers with the whole class. Explain how service members often experience this stranded feeling.
The teacher will explain that providing service members who are away from home a connection to community is
very important. Review various volunteer organizations, their mission statements, list services they provide, and
explain their organization’s mission.

The teacher will conduct a short discussion on the importance of volunteerism. Through discussion, see if students
can tell what a person gives up when he volunteers. If any students have done volunteer work, invite them to share
their experiences. Evaluate how these sacrifices add to the greater good.

Small Group Activity:
Ask students to individually define interdependence and how it relates to volunteering. Without using the dictionary
or, students will write down what they think interdependence means. Share responses and then make
a consensus definition with the class and display on board.

Concluding Activity:
Watch the vignette about the story of Vernon Baker. Using the class definition of interdependence, list and discuss
the ways the recipient displayed interdependence. Write an explanation of how the recipient sacrificed for the greater good.

Discussion, writing, consensus definition for interdependence

Cast Away. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Perf. Tom Hanks. Twentieth Century Fox, 2000.
Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.
Volunteer organizations:

Extended activity:
Students may make their own care package by first making a list of the items they would include, then donate
or purchase those items for the efforts to send packages to military men and women. Be sure to include a letter
for the recipients of the care package. The teacher will contact a local organization to determine distribution. Students
may also volunteer at a local organization.

Quote: "One visit to a country without freedom makes one realize that freedom is a precious gift worth fighting for." - Ernest E. West, Army-Korean War

In Their Own Words - Vernon Baker