MINNEAPOLIS _ Nearly 20 Minnesota elementary school teachers joined Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry this week to begin work on a first-of-its-kind program aimed at teaching elementary school students how to think of others before themselves and make difficult choices based on the values that the Medal of Honor represents: courage, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism, integrity and citizenship.
Drawn from the personal accounts of living Medal of Honor recipients, the Medal of Honor Character Development Program tells the extraordinary stories of Medal of Honor recipients and teaches students that extraordinary acts are possible only if ordinary people rise to the challenge of the moment and if our society values sacrifice.
“Whether a student is influenced with strong character values at home or not, teachers have the ability to reinforce and build those traits in their students to help them be great citizens," said Leroy Petry, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011 for his actions during the War in Afghanistan.
Petry has spoken to hundreds of middle and high school students as part of the program, developed by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, but this year he is helping Minnesota educators design and launch a new version of the program for elementary school students to coincide with the 2016 Medal of Honor Convention, which is being held in the Twin Cities October 4th – 8th of this year.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring the recipients’ stories of courage and self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds to elementary classrooms this year,” said Liz Dapp, chairwoman of the Medal of Honor Convention Twin Cities. The Medal of Honor Convention Twin Cities is planning nearly a dozen school visits at elementary, middle, and high schools this fall where Medal of Honor recipients will be able to interact with students who have experienced the program.
About SFC Leroy Petry:
Medal of Honor Citation - For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the vicinity of Paktya Province, Afghanistan, on May 26, 2008. As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sergeant Petry moved to clear the courtyard of a house that potentially contained high-value combatants. While crossing the courtyard, Staff Sergeant Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters. Still under enemy fire, and wounded in both legs, Staff Sergeant Petry led the other Ranger to cover. He then reported the situation and engaged the enemy with a hand grenade, providing suppression as another Ranger moved to his position. The enemy quickly responded by maneuvering closer and throwing grenades. The first grenade explosion knocked his two fellow Rangers to the ground and wounded both with shrapnel. A second grenade then landed only a few feet away from them. Instantly realizing the danger, Staff Sergeant Petry, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers. As he was releasing the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist and further injuring him with multiple shrapnel wounds. Although picking up and throwing the live grenade grievously wounded Staff Sergeant Petry, his gallant act undeniably saved his fellow Rangers from being severely wounded or killed. Despite the severity of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry continued to maintain the presence of mind to place a tourniquet on his right wrist before communicating the situation by radio in order to coordinate support for himself and his fellow wounded Rangers. Staff Sergeant Petry's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army.
About the Medal of Honor Character Development Program
The Medal of Honor Character Development Program incorporates the ideals of courage and selfless service into the middle and high school curriculum to build character and promote responsible citizenship. Under a grant from the General Electric Foundation, the Medal of Honor Foundation worked with the Erie and Wattsburg Area School Districts in Pennsylvania and a group of educators for more than two years to establish Medal of Honor-related lesson plans drawing upon the ideals embodied in the Medal of Honor, and their application in daily life. The program was designed for use in a variety of education purposes, with lesson plans that use best practices based on national standards and core values. Visit www.cmohedu.org for complete program information.
About the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Convention
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was formed in 1958 under President Dwight Eisenhower to protect, uphold and preserve the dignity and honor of the medal at all times and on all occasions. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s convention, which is being held in Minnesota for the first time from October 4 – 8, 2016, is organized on an annual basis for the following purposes:
- To further the bond of brotherhood and camaraderie among all living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
- To remember in reverence and respect those who received the Medal of Honor posthumously, and those who are now deceased.
- To foster patriotism and to inspire and stimulate our youth to become better citizens of our country.
- To recognize and award patriotic Americans who promote and perpetuate the principles upon which our nation was founded through their life’s work.