People often talk about doing things for an ideal, though it can be confusing as to who those ideals belong. The government's ideal is one where citizens work for the collective good, often at the discretion of political leaders, as in boosting national strength in technology, math and science.
In reality, there is no such thing as a collective ideal. People are first and foremost influenced by the ideals of their primary caretakers, and parents. This influence determines and helps form their own image of themselves, as to what kind of person they will be as they grow up. Friends they meet help reinforce that image, and shape the person.
People argue that the collective ideal is to protect the country, and fight for freedom. For the soldiers fighting the war, their only ideal is to protect their family, friends and brothers-in-arms, hoping to return home safe and unharmed at the end. Soldiers winning the Medal of Honor do not act courageously so they can be awarded, they do it because the time and circumstance requires of them, and they realize where they are needed and what they must do.
Collective ideal is purely propaganda by those in power, and it only serves to disclose their intent or purpose, and give legitimacy to their higher status.