Students and faculty from the Medal of Honor Project visited Washington, D.C. Monday and Tuesday to cover a private screening of the documentary, Medal of Honor: The History. The event was hosted by Justice Samuel Alito at the United States Supreme Court. Joe Thompson and Chris Coyne, co-chairs of the Knoxville convention commissioned Knoxville-based RIVR media to create the documentary. Local historian, Ed Hooper, wrote and produced the 44-minute work.
Thompson had the idea for the documentary when he and Coyne discover that there were no documentaries about physical medal, its beginnings, or how it has changed overtime.
“Chris and I early on spent a lot of time focusing on what we wanted the legacy of our convention to be,” said Thompson. “[We wanted] something tangible that they could remember us by. That Knoxville would be the turning point for perpetuating the legacy of the Medal.”
Hooper said finding the information wasn’t very easy.
“It was a question of gathering up all of the information that had been rumored was out there,” said Hooper. “[It] turned into a very monumental effort in terms of where we had to go and what we had to do. We couldn’t just pull it out of the Library of Congress or the National Archive, because collectors held it, museums held it.“
The screening was well received by those in attendance, including Justices Alito and Sotomayor, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee, 30 Medal of Honor recipients, and other invited guests.
Ronald Rand, President and CEO of the Medal of Honor Foundation, said the reactions he heard were all positive.
“[The Recipients] were blown away,” Rand said. “Every man among them stated ‘long overdue, interesting’ but the best part of their comments were that they learned for the first time about what their medals were made of, why their medals were different from others.”
Thompson and Coyne are seeking distribution for the documentary.
“I would say big names [networks],” said Thompson. “We are talking to the right channels for this type of product, I’m confident that we will succeed.”
Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall said, “It was outstanding. It was one of the best things. That film is going to be a lasting film that we can use. We will be using it in schools across the country. We can reach a younger generation with this.”
Along with covering the screening, students from the Medal of Honor Project covered ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as part of National Medal of Honor Day. The ceremonies included the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and recognition of the Citizens of Valor, an award presented by the Medal of Honor Society and Foundation.
The Knoxville Medal of Honor Convention team will host the public premiere of the film Monday at the Regal Riviera Theatre in downtown Knoxville at 7 p.m. Check back to our website for coverage of the premiere, including interviews with Medal of Honor recipients Sammy Davis and Woody Williams.
Reporting by Taylor Hathorn/ Video and editing by Katherine Donnelly