American Valor
Stories of Valor
History of the Medal
About the Broadcast
For Teachers
About the Broadcast

From Bull Run to Mogadishu, American Valor takes a moving and compelling look at America’s military heroes: those brave soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen whose actions have earned them the country’s highest military recognition, the Medal of Honor.

Stories of the Medal of Honor’s recipients unfold through newsreel footage, photographs, military art, and interviews with recipients and the comrades who witnessed their heroic acts. American Valor examines how the medal is more than a decoration for bravery; it is a way of helping understand who we are as a people, what we have experienced and what values we cherish.

Since its inception in the Civil War, the Medal of Honor has chronicled America’s struggle for freedom. The medal reflects the heroism of individual Americans, but in many respects it also mirrors our broader social history — including the racism that denied recognition to some American heroes who served valiantly in World War II.

To date, the Medal of Honor has been bestowed upon 3,440 individuals, only one woman among them — a Civil War doctor. It took nearly 60 years for 29 African-American and Asian-American soldiers to be recognized for their heroic actions in World War II. They were finally honored, many posthumously, at ceremonies at the White House in 1997 and 2000. Two of those recipients, Vernon Baker and George Sakato, are featured in American Valor.

The last action for which the Medal of Honor was awarded occurred in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 3, 1993. Medals were presented posthumously to the families of Delta Force members Gary Gordon and Randall Shughart. Black Hawk helicopter pilot Mike Durant, whose life was saved by the two medal honorees, is featured in American Valor.

Funding for American Valor has been provided in part by the Anheuser-Busch Foundation and the McCormick Tribune Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS. Tony and Golden Globe Award winner and five-time Emmy Award nominee Brian Dennehy, a former U. S. Marine, is the film’s narrator.

Filmed in cooperation with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, American Valor is executive produced by Lionel Chetwynd and Norman S. Powell of Whidbey Island Films. Together they have produced 18 public affairs programs and documentaries for PBS, including National Desk and Darkness at High Noon: The Carl Foreman Documents. The executive producers for WETA are Dalton Delan and John Potthast. The film is directed by Emmy Award-nominee Powell and written by Academy Award-nominee Chetwynd. Ellen Levine and Kristi Wuttig are the film’s producers.

©2003 GWETA