Posts Tagged ‘Medal of Honor Documentary’

A Special Moment at Wilkes University

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Wilkes students view documentary film on Gettysburg
The Times Leader

October 02. 2014 6:26PM – 1913 Views

By Bill O’Boyle

Photograph by Fred Adams

WILKES-BARRE — Honor and valor, along with character, courage, humility and integrity were words discussed and their definitionsWilkes Presentation displayed at length Wednesday during a two-hour presentation at Wilkes University.

Dr. Tony Mussari Sr., retired King’s College professor, spoke to a group of Wilkes education students about his latest film — “Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg.” His presentation was part of the Drs. Robert S. and Judith A. Gardner Educational Forum Series that features speakers from the educational and business community.

When the film ended and Mussari stopped speaking, the students came away impressed, challenged and determined to follow the examples depicted in the film.

The documentary was filmed during the 150th Medal of Honor Convention, held in September 2013, in Gettysburg. Six Junior ROTC students from North Plainfield (N.J.) High School are featured: Adriana Miranda, senior; Elijah Sheridan, junior; Jared Ruiz, junior; Ruel Lindsay, junior; Kyle Pacla, junior; and Nancy Bahnasy, sophomore.

The students got to meet and talk to several recipients of the Medal of Honor and they heard the selflessness of each story and the attitude of “we did what we had to do” that echoed through the four days.

And the echoes reverberated at Wilkes, where the students gained a perspective on how important it is to live one’s life in an honorable and ethical way.

Mussari began with a thought for the day from George Washington, the father of our country, who said: “Labor to keep alive in your breast, that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

The New Jersey School Boards Association has supported publication and distribution of a teaching guide of Mussari’s documentary that will be used in all New Jersey public high schools.

“I’m worried about your generation,” Mussari said. “I’m not afraid for your future, but I am concerned.”

Medal of Honor

So Mussari embarked on this journey, with his wife, Kitch Loftus Mussari, to film another documentary to add to their list of completed projects, like those on the Agnes Flood of 1972, the Centralia Fire in 1982 and the Windsor Park series.

This project was 15 months in the making and included 21 trips to Gettysburg, site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

As the students watched the documentary, they learned there are 3,462 Medal of Honor recipients, all but one are men; 63 of them fought at Gettysburg and 1,522 fought in the Civil War. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

As Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum said, “I’m not a hero. I’m just Barney Barnum,” the students pondered the question often asked: “What motivated them to do what they did?”

There were plenty of reasons offered, but the overriding response was: “We did what we had to do.”

The students learned the hardest thing to do is doing the right thing, but most of the Medal of Honor recipients in the documentary agreed that when faced with a dangerous situation, a moment arrives when all just reacted and they did what had to be done.

As Sal Giunta, the youngest recipient who served in Afghanistan, said, “Right will always be right.”

Mussari said the lessons learned in Gettysburg need to be learned throughout the U.S. He said one-third of children are born into single-parent families. He said numbers are always increasing of grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“These are challenging times,” Mussari said. “These trends need to change.”

The Wilkes students said the documentary opened their eyes and they came away impressed by how each recipient disregarded their own safety to do what was necessary for the good of their comrades, their communities and their country.

(The Medal of Honor statistics in the documentary reflect the number of recipients as of September 2013)