Bob Madore said he learned more in the last year about his father Harvey from Maranacook Community High School social studies teacher Shane Gower than he had in the previous 74 years. After visiting Harvey Madore’s grave at a military cemetery in France, Gower learned a lot more too.

Gower was one of 18 teachers from across the country to participate in a year-long professional development program called “Understanding Sacrifice” designed to take teachers on a journey of exploration and discovery through the lives of American heroes of World War II.

Gower’s year-long journey culminated in a trip to Italy and France to visit the gravesites of the fallen soldiers, including Harvey Madore, who is buried at Epinal American Cemetery in Dinoze, France.

“The feelings that day are difficult to put into words,” Gower said. “Going through the process and thinking of what Harvey went through was tough.”

The teachers on the trip each gave a eulogy for their fallen hero at each gravesite, and Gower was glad he was able to see 14 eulogies before it was his turn to speak about Madore, who was killed not far from his final resting place in 1945.

“It was pretty amazing to think about that moment as Harvey’s time to be recognized,” Gower said, noting that his eulogy was the only one Madore had ever received. “It was incredible to think that 70-plus years later, I was able to give him his moment.”

Gower spoke to Bob Madore, of Augusta, about his trip and the eulogy he gave his father and said the conversation was emotional as Madore expressed thanks and appreciation. Bob Madore and his son Roger visited Harvey Madore’s gravesite in France several years ago.

“For me personally, my grandfather fought in the war and passed away before I was old enough to talk to him about it,” Gower said. “This experience is almost like expressing that same appreciation to my grandfather in some ways.”

As part of the professional development program, Gower had to develop a lesson plan for his students after identifying a fallen hero, ideally one from the teacher’s local area.

“The idea was to basically tell as much of their story as you can as a way to acknowledge their sacrifice and find a way to connect that to our curriculum,” the teacher said.

Gower’s plan was for his students to compare the cemetery in France where Madore is buried to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., and for his students to think about what kinds of symbols, statues and horticulture are present and how that affects visitors. He wanted students to determine if there were things missing from the memorial that would make it more meaningful.

Senior Max Rojas said he realized that sacrifice can be memorialized in many different ways that just aren’t limited to memorials. Classmate Cora Merrick said the project showed how differently people view and memorialize sacrifice.

Nathan Delmar, a Maranacook senior, said looking at Harvey Madore’s story taught him that sacrifice is never linear because each soldier had their own history.

“Even though the headstones at Epinal tell the same story, the story of death is different for every solider,” Delmar said in an email provided by Gower. “This project helped open my eyes to the many different types of sacrifice that occurred during World War II.”

During the “what is missing from the memorial” activity, Gower’s students were tasked with looking at the World War II memorial’s horticulture, architectural design, use of text and art.

Liam McNamara said it was clear that every part of a memorial is carefully thought out, from the length of the grass to the materials and colors used. He contrasted the open land and green space at Epinal with the “granite that covers the area around the World War II memorial in a sheet of gray.”

The Epinal cemetery, McNamara said, is full of life and colors and there’s more of a happy mood to remember those who died and the beauty of the world they were fighting to protect.

“The World War II Memorial, however, is more somber with gray everywhere meant to be a remembrance of the sadness of war and what it took away from the world while it was happening,” McNamara said.

Gower said it’s hard for the younger generation to relate to what war was like when Harvey Madore was fighting, but having that personal connection to someone made it easier for the students.

“Me telling them or having them read something in a textbook isn’t enough,” Gower said. “There’s something different about seeing it from the person who lived or experienced it.”

The current Understanding Sacrifice program has 18 different teachers learning about America’s role in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. The teachers will travel to San Francisco, Honolulu and the Philippines, and Gower hopes to have another opportunity to participate in the program in the years to come.

Maranacook High School held an assembly around Memorial Day in May honoring Harvey Madore and Joseph Ford Berry, a Wayne man killed in Sicily during World War II.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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