Website by high school history class to honor Floyd County veterans who died in World War II

FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- A history class at Floyd Central High School is honoring local World War II heroes by creating a website for them.

At the beginning of the semester, students in Mark McKay's World War II class went through a list of men from Floyd County who were killed in the war. They chose nine of those men to research and create individual websites for.

"Some of the group is researching the battle," explained McKay, "and probably what the guy experienced from a military standpoint, his training and everything else. The other parts of the group are going through their families and trying to get family contacts and photos of these guys."

All of the information is being compiled on a website, which will be published in mid-December.

"I think it's important for them to realize the war seriously affected individual people and individual families," said McKay.

McKay has been teaching for the past 22 years, five those have been at Floyd Central. Since he started this assignment in 2012, the project has slowly grown. The website already memorializes the lives and service of 23 men.

"It's been so many years since the war," said McKay. "We've kind of lost track of how many guys died from Floyd County in the war. And there's a lot. I mean, it's over 100 guys from Floyd County who died in World War II."

These are the nine men who will be added to that website this year:

  • Edward L Thomas
  • David Paris
  • Melvin C Brewer
  • Thomas M Harris
  • Willie C Thompson
  • Edwin Snook
  • Robert Salesman
  • Robert Stacy
  • Wallace Jeffers

"I think it's really important in history to know how the United States developed," said McKay, "to know where we came from as a country. And to see what shaped us."

He added, "I like to teach history for that reason. To try and explain to kids, 'Well, here's how we've developed. Here's what we came from."

Through their research, McKay's students are finding personal connections to total strangers.

"I'm near that age whenever he went into the military," said Grayson Speck, a sophomore researching one of the veterans. "So you can kind of see back into history, like what that would’ve been like."

Fellow students agreed the project is giving more perspective on the war, past a boring curriculum of facts and figures.

"It's just been an amazing experience to see what these guys went through," said Kaitlyn Gordon, a senior in the class. "And understand how their families dealt with the loss. It's kind of heartbreaking realizing what's happening in this war."

Lexi Heeke, also a senior in the class, went to interview the family of her group's veteran. She learned details about the man's personality that will bring his story to life on the website.

"It's an experience a lot of kids don't get," she said.

The students take pride in their project. And they hope people in Kentuckiana and across the globe will visit the website and learn more about these American heroes.

Rosetta Harvey's uncle, Edwin Snook, is one of the men these students are researching. She said she is excited and cannot wait for the website to be published.

"I love that these kids are interested in finding out themselves about the past," said Harvey with a smile. "And they're not even related to them! I'm proud that I had an uncle that served for us. There's so many people that did. And we're so lucky to still be alive here because of them."

While clutching a black-and-white photo of her uncle, she said she is grateful these teenagers are working so hard to keep the memories of these heroes alive.

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