How the 6 Medal of Honor Character Traits Apply to Our Everyday Lives

This article was originally published by the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center on their website. To read the original article and explore more about the Medal of Honor character traits, please visit Medal of Honor Character Traits on their official site. We are thankful for the opportunity to share this valuable content with our audience at the MOH Center for Leadership.

How The 6 Medal of Honor Character Traits Apply to Our Everyday Lives

Character has always been something that should be developed, observed and recognized. Whether you are a military officer faced with life or death situations or a child on the playground having to decide between including someone in your game or not, it is the difficult choices you choose to make that define your character.

The Medal of Honor was created as the highest military decoration for individuals that exhibited the highest qualities of character – Courage, Sacrifice, Patriotism, Citizenship, Integrity, and Commitment.

While each Medal of Honor recipient has exhibited each of these six character traits in situations most couldn’t even imagine, these traits are not unique to the battlefield but in fact translate into the everyday lives of any individual.

Anyone is capable of exhibiting these six character traits, but sometimes character has to be developed. Understanding each trait and how it applies to our everyday lives is where we begin.


Doing the right thing when faced with danger or difficult decisions is the hallmark of the Medal of Honor. Acts as simple as speaking out when you believe something is wrong or standing up for someone who has been mistreated are ways that we as humans can live out acts of courage in our daily lives.


Upholding sacrifice and service above self are guiding principles for all Americans as citizens of a free and prosperous nation. A young man choosing to give up his seat on a bus for an elderly woman or a child sharing her favorite toy with a classmate might seem like simple, insignificant acts, but each time someone chooses to prioritize others before his or herself are displays of sacrifice that demonstrate one’s character.


Devoting our loyalty to our nation and educating others about what makes America great is essential to a lasting, unified nation. While this is a crucial character trait for our soldiers fighting for our country and also for American citizens, the same sentiment can be applied to the dedication and loyalty we exhibit to those we are closest and interact with in our everyday lives – friends, family, classmates and beyond.


Inspiring all Americans to be involved in their community, respect others, show compassion, and assume personal responsibility helps build a greater nation. Volunteering at your local homeless shelter, purchasing Christmas gifts for a family that otherwise could not afford them or simply providing a shoulder for someone to lean on when he or she is going through a tough time are all ways we can continue to demonstrate citizenship everyday.


Being honest and having strong moral principles is a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent ethical standards, and one we can all make. This character trait can sometimes be the most challenging of all as it is on you and only you to make the right choice. More often than not, making the right choice isn’t the most enjoyable, easiest or safest choice, but when we prioritize morality over our own wants or needs, we promote a world that is supportive, kind and honorable.


Dedicating time, energy and resources to and for others results in stronger communities and an America that is an example for the rest of the world. When you tell a friend you will pick them up from the airport or you promise your children you will build a treehouse with them over the weekend, making a commitment to be there and following through on that commitment is the number one way to build trust and respect from those around you.

Where Education Meets Inspiration

The Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is more than a museum. We hope that through our interactive exhibits and educational programs, we can expand the minds and fill the hearts of our visitors from across the nation with the spirit and character of those willing to sacrifice all.

A key focus of the Heritage Center is on teaching, education and storytelling. We want to extend beyond the Heritage Center walls and help current and future generations across our country to find the relevance of the Medal of Honor in their own lives.

Education Meets Inspiration