It's not hard to "ADOPT a Medal of Honor Recipient" ...all you have to do is DO IT! Its as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1) DECIDE WHO TO ADOPT.
This may be the most DIFFICULT part. Though there are so few of them, each has special and unique characteristics that makes it hard to choose one over another. Some helpful ideas:
Choose a Medal of Honor recipient that lives in your own state, or who's Medal of Honor is accredited to your state but who may now be living elsewhere.
Find a recipient from an era you are currently studying (World War II, Korea, or Vietnam).
Divide the class into smaller groups, each group responsible to read several citations and prepare a report for the entire class. Make it a project for each group to report to the class WHY their selected recipient would make a good choice, then have the class vote on which recipient to adopt.
2) LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT THE RECIPIENT.
Before your first contact, learn what you can about the hero you wish your class to adopt. You can download his citation from our (or other) websites. I would encourage classes to make a copy for each child in the class. Also spend some time learning about the Medal of Honor. You might even invite a local veteran (especially if it is the parent of a student) to talk to the class. Your local military recruiters are often very open to school visits. It is also very probable that there are magazine articles, perhaps even a movie or video interview available. Search out what resources may be available. (Feel free to e-mail us for any help we can provide.)
3) NOTIFY YOUR HERO THAT HE IS ADOPTED.
Make your first letter to the Medal of Honor recipient you are adopting a fun project for all the students. Perhaps a brief cover letter stating your intent along with a "certificate of adoption" or a card signed by all the members of the class. We have prepared a special page of instructions for you on where and how to write to Medal of Honor recipients.
In all probability you WILL receive a letter in reply from your "Adopted hero". But because many of them are getting older and often struggle with health problems there is the possibility that there may be a delay in hearing back. Don't lose heart or become impatient. If you do not receive a reply after a few weeks, write to and "adopt" another Medal of Honor recipient. Once contact IS established it will open a world of opportunities to the classroom.
Once you have begun corresponding with your adopted hero, keep the project ALIVE. Some of the things you can do:
Maintain the line of communication. Send a birthday card on his birthday (you can find it here or on his citation), remember him regularly and especially on the anniversary of his heroic action and special days like Veterans Day, Medal of Honor Day, and other patriotic holidays.
Create and make a scrap book or, better yet, a display for the entire school to enjoy, in which you can keep his letters, photos, and other material. In it include pictures and information on the Medal of Honor. Remember that not everyone who sees your scrap book or display will know how important this award is, so include information to help others understand the award that makes your adopted hero stand out.
Look for CREATIVE WAYS to let him influence your class in terms of patriotism, dedication, duty and honor. (A good example of such creativity would be to create a simple award named in honor of your hero "The ____________ Citizenship Award" to present each month to a student who has demonstrated certain positive attitudes, work habits, achievements, etc.) It could be as simple as a certificate or as impressive as a small "trophy" or ribbon.
SHARE YOUR IDEAS WITH US ON THIS WEB SITE....It is our hope that these pages will produce some renewed classroom emphasis on patriotism and respect for our true heroes. As the program "catches on" we would like to include a page on YOUR program under our SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH OTHERS folder. Something you and your students are doing may be helpful to others. Share these ideas with us so that we can share them with others.
Finally, if your adopted hero lives within traveling distance, consider inviting him to visit your class. WHAT..........? Believe it or not, Medal of Honor recipients enjoy few things more than sharing their love for America with kids. As improbable as it may sound, if there is a Medal of Honor recipient close by, he will welcome the chance visit with them. They are the most accessible "CELEBRITIES" in the world, probably because more than any other famous people, they are really ordinary people like you and I. Of course an opportunity like this is too good not to share. If you invite your adopted hero to school, why not plan a School-Wide Patriotic Assembly.
World War II hero Desmond Doss poses at the welcome banner prepared for him at a Pueblo grade school in 1996. The red, white, and blue ribbon on his uniform was made and presented to him by the children.
Honor a past Recipient at a local grave:
Visit a local grave site to honor MOH Recipients and other veterans that gave all they had.
Contribute to the CMOHS Scholarship Fund:
Help the Society fund scholarships to worthy young people in search of higher education.
Have a Patriotic School Assembly:
Have one of the over 100 living recipients come and speak to your school and give the kids a bit of living history to learn from.
Memorial Day Celebration:
The day off from school/work is nice but learn how you can pay tribute to those that died for the American people.
A big thanks to Doug Sterner and his HomeofHeroes website for providing most of the content of this page.