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Moments of Glory - Part 4

Reward of Merit card.Social Approval:
The Good, the Bad, and the Role Models

"If you clean up your room, then you can watch TV."

Early in life, we learn that certain kinds of behaviors are rewarded. The Reward of Merit card (top, right) is one way schools awarded children for "studious and orderly conduct" in the past.

People who act in the spirit of patriotism, heroism, or charity are considered ideal models. The awards they receive are tangible reminders of virtues valued by our society.

American Legion uniform.

Community organizations provide opportunities for personal development and encourage socially responsible and charitable acts. Participants are recognized with symbols of advancement.

Special clothing also designates membership and status within an organization, as with this American Legion uniform (center, left).

Legion of Honor medal.

Medals are most often associated with military service, and have been used for centuries to reward heroic actions. Military medals are awarded in special ceremonies and worn in very specific ways.

The Legion of Honor medal (center, right), established by Napoleon Bonaparte, has been credited with building a cooperative spirit among his troops. It is still given to officers and enlisted personnel for distinguished service. This particular medal belonged to Brigadier General Thomas B. Wilson of Jefferson County, Kansas.

Acts of heroism can occur anywhere and at any time. In 1972 Lucille Widsteen saved an out-of-control bus from going over an embankment. Her awards included a medal from Congress and one from the City of Topeka.

Dalton gang souvenirs By contrast, our society also pays a great deal of attention to bad examples. Notoriety results in a peculiar kind of public commemoration and even fascination. People clamor for news and souvenirs of infamous people. Such attention can serve either to deter misconduct or, unfortunately, to glamorize it.

On October 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang rode into Coffeyville and robbed banks. Four of the gang members were killed. Someone kept these scraps of cloth (bottom, left) from Bob and Grat Dalton's pants.


Moments of Glory is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.

  1. Introduction
  2. Competition: Everybody Loves a Winner
  3. People Outstanding in Their Fields
  4. Social Approval: The Good, the Bad, and the Role Models
  5. Personal Milestones
  6. Brushes With Greatness
  7. Creativity: Following the Muse
  8. Collections

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov