Swiss Memorial Elementary School teachers Kimberly McBee and Clayta Meeks were invited to attend the Medal of Honor Character Education Breakfast, in Chattanooga, on August 21. While there, McBee and Meeks learned that the Medal of Honor Character Education Program is a flexible cross-curricular resource which uses the oral histories of Medal of Honor recipients. The program focuses on how students can use the examples of courage, citizenship, commitment, sacrifice, integrity, and patriotism to influence change in their own communities. Medal of Honor Character Education is designed to prompt students to think of others first and make good choices every day. The program also teaches students that ordinary people can meet great challenges and positively change their own lives and their neighbors.
National Medal of Honor reading and writing instruction is similar to the methods currently being used in Teaching Literacy in Tennessee with the use of anchor charts and writing tasks that lead to enduring understanding. Now, through the newly learned teaching and learning strategies that McBee and Meeks are bringing back to their classrooms, their students will become advanced writers while learning the importance of patriotism and the sacrifices made on their behalf.
During the breakfast, McBee and Meeks met and spoke privately with National Medal of Honor Recipient Clinton Romesha. Romesha describes himself as a “regular guy.” But, on Wednesday morning, when he took off the Medal of Honor he was awarded for valor in Afghanistan and handed it over to McBee and Meeks, the moment was anything but regular.
McBee and Meeks also attended the Celebration of Valor Luncheon, an annual fundraiser that supports the construction of the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center currently being outfitted in Aquarium Plaza in Downtown Chattanooga. The center will feature 19,000 square feet of interactive and immersive war exhibits that can be used as a teaching aid to educate children and adults on American History. The Celebration of Valor luncheon raised money for the new $6.25 million facility scheduled to open in February of 2020. The museum will honor the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients.
Romesha was the featured speaker at the luncheon. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 11, 2013, by the President of the United States, for his actions at the Battle of Kamdesh on October 3, 2009. Outnumbered 6-1, he rallied his 18 man platoon and 32 other soldiers to hold off a Taliban force of more than 300 at Outpost Keating. Eight American soldiers died and 27 were wounded during the 12 hour fight in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Romesha completed three combat tours and suffered multiple shrapnel wounds during the battle. He wrote a New York Times bestselling novel titled Red Platoon in 2016, which recounts the battle. A movie based on the book is in production. A documentary about Clint Romesha is currently showing on Netflix titled Medal of Honor.
Kimberly McBee has been honoring Veterans at Swiss Memorial Elementary for 27 years. She has organized assemblies honoring veterans for 16 years. Clayta Meeks was the first to offer help to McBee and later other colleagues volunteered forming the SMES Veterans Appreciation Program Committee. McBee’s main goal as director of the SMES Veterans Appreciation Program is to teach the youth the importance of being thankful to veterans for their sacrifice and for our freedom.
Linda Moss Mines, Trustee for The Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center and Vice President of Education for the Medal of Honor Character Education Program, along with Jules Parker, CFRE Director of Development for the heritage center, will present a virtual reality tour of the center at the SMES Veterans Appreciation Program in the SMES gymnasium on Friday, November the 8th at 1:00 pm CST. The Sequatchie Valley Honor Guard will also be in attendance. All veterans are encouraged to attend.
For more information on the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage center, please visit www.mohm.org.
Kimberly McBee (left) and Clayta Meeks are pictured with National Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Romesha.