Posts Tagged ‘Medal of Honor in Gettysburg’

A Medal of Honor Experience in Gettysburg

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A Medal of Honor Experience

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD, 2013
All Rights Reserved

Any time you’re shooting documentary stuff, you’ve got to be in the
moment you’ve got to be able to be in control enough to
capture what’s happening.
Brian de Palma

Someone once said that making a documentary film is like going war. No matter how much you prepare, something unexpected alwaysDocP_9032 happens. Sometimes it’s weather-related, often it’s just circumstance and frequently it’s just plain old human nature at work.

Location shooting is a pressure cooker filled with explosive ingredients like anxiety, fear, uncertainty and stress. Around every corner there’s a surprise that complicates a potential scene or creates an opportunity. To make the most of these events one must be flexible and adjust.

For six days in September, Kitch and I were on location at the Medal of Honor Convention in Gettysburg, PA. For almost three days, we worked with Junior ROTC Cadets from the North Plainfield High School in New Jersey. It was an incredible opportunity, the fulfillment of a lifetime dream and a challenge unlike anything we have every undertaken.

Were there surprises?  Yes.

Were there unexpected complications? Yes.

Were there a few missteps? Yes.


But overall it was a grand experience. We were able to rub shoulders with some of the most impressive people we have ever met.  We were able to learn what heroism is all about, and we accomplished what we set out to do. Thanks to the contributions of many people we successfully recorded the story of the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor in Gettysburg, a place that speaks to honor and valor every day of the year.

Who were these Gettysburg gifts?

Kitch.  She worked though incredible arthritis pain and discomfort, without complaint, to do the things that needed to be done with competence and professionalism.  Because of her dedication and determination, we have a library of 3,420 digital images.

My adopted son Patrick took vacation time to come toPD_9091 Gettysburg and help us record video of the convention events.  Working with less than three hours sleep, he did not miss a beat or a scene during the longest day of the production, 16 hours, on September 19, 2013.

Nancy, Kyle and Ruel provided an unforgettable moment when they walked to the microphone to ask thoughtful questions during the Town Hall Meeting at Gettysburg College.

Jared provided the most compelling and enthusiastic answer to the question, “What did you learn during the convention?”

Adriana wrote the most beautiful gratitude note after she returned home.


Elijah’s every action during the convention spoke to gratitude, learning and teamwork.

Kristin, Lea and their colleagues at the Webster Group did everything in their power to help us get access to the events and the recipients.

Tom Mazur’s quiet demeanor demonstrated a fundamental quality of leadership, “Leading by being led.”

Eric Hansen, the cadet commander, kept a watchful eye on his students while maintaining great interest in the convention events.

Joe the bus driver saved the day when I misplaced the disk for Kitch’s digital camera.

Dana, Ashley, Mary, Angie and Lois made our home away from home, the Hampton Inn, a friendly place for everyone in our group.

Stacey Fox set the tone for our adventure with well-chosen and inspiring words of context and welcome. Her comments about thinking, listening, reflecting and leadership will find a place in our documentary.

Mr. & Mrs. Ted Chamberlain brought Fanny and JoshuaJCS_7871 Chamberlain back to life with authenticity, feeling and historical accuracy. They did it with enthusiasm and a sense of gratitude for the legacy of their heroic ancestor and a willingness to give to the project without expectation of any reward.

Bruce Rice is a man of dedication to the Gettysburg story. Bruce prepared a special presentation about monuments that reflect the values of the Medal of Honor and the 63 soldiers who earned it at Gettysburg. The inconvenience of a late summer cold did not prevent him from conducting a compelling and informative two hour battlefield tour.


Mayor Bill Troxell gave life to the often spoken line at the convention that there are heroes everywhere, and the vast majority of them did not receive a golden pentagram with a blue ribbon. Nevertheless, he reflected the light of the values of the Medal of Honor. Mayor Troxell’s presentation at City Hall added an important dimension to the students’ open air classroom in Gettysburg.

Bob Monahan opened the door to the convention, and he kept it open so we could capture the priceless moments of discovery and transformation.

The recipients every action, word and symbolic gesture spoke in powerful and effective ways about the values associated withMoHR_9224j the Medal of Honor.

When I think about the Face of America on its best day, the faces of the men we met in Gettysburg add depth and substance to the image that will always have a very special place in my heart.

The Medal of Honor Convention in Gettysburg was a classroom like no other in a place like no other with a legacy like no other. To paraphrase the words of Abraham Lincoln, it taught us that we can do better. It showed us that we can and must rise with the occasion no matter what the circumstance, complication or inconvenience.

For that humbling and lifesaving message, Kitch and I are eternally grateful.

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