United States Medal of Honor recipients created a Medal of Honor Character Development Program for teachers to use in schools. Now, these Medal of Honor recipients are honoring a high school teacher, Ray Brassard, with the first Medal of Honor Excellence in Character Education award.
Ray Brassard, a teacher and high school football coach, tells stories of honor, sacrifice, courage, and determination to his students and athletes. He tells Medal of Honor stories because stories are the currency of character. Without heroes who embody ideals, words like courage, integrity, justice, and honor lack sticking power. Inspired by Mr. Brassard and the Medal of Honor stories he tells, students have a vision to pursue.
“I’ll go up in front of the kids and tell them about a Medal of Honor recipient, and I’ll try to tie their story to something we’re going through . . .,” Brassard told The News Tribune.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to the recipients to share their stories with as many people as possible,” Brassard said. “There’s an obligation, at least for me, to make sure their sacrifice doesn’t go unheard. This is just one small way I can think to do that.”
According to the Tribune, “Brassard has extensive knowledge of Medal of Honor recipient stories, and says some particularly moving stories come right from home. Right now, tacked to the Medal of Honor Wall in his classroom, is a picture of Doug Munro, the only member of the U.S. Coast Guard to ever receive a Medal of Honor. Munro was from Cle Elum, and died during the Second Battle of Matanikau during World War II as he evacuated hundreds of Marines from Japanese forces. As he died from a gunshot wound on his boat, his last words were, ‘Did they get off?’”
In The Death of Character, James Davison Hunter writes, “Implicit in the word ‘character’ is a story. It is a story about living for a purpose that is greater than the self.” Medal of Honor recipients—without exception—are living stories of this kind of rich character.
Their stories animate Mr. Brassard, his athletes, and students to pursue a purpose bigger than test scores or football games—and that is why he is well-deserving of the Medal of Excellence in Character Education award.
For ways to weave stories of honor and bravery into classroom instruction, the Medal of Honor Foundation provides cross-disciplinary lesson plans for elementary and middle school teachers.
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