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State Historical Society of Iowa

Nashua Educator Completes NHD's "Understanding Sacrifice" Program, Publishes Research on Award-Winning Website

Dec 20, 2019

An Iowa educator's research of a fallen World War II hero's life and military service has been published on an award-winning website that is used by teachers across the United States.

In July, Suzan Turner of Nashua-Plainfield High School traveled to France and Luxembourg to research Pfc. Harvey E. Wilson, Jr. (1921-1945) of Nashua as part of the Understanding Sacrifice program created by National History Day and sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission. After finishing her research, Turner created a profile, eulogy and lesson plans, all of which are now available on

“This partnership with the American Battle Monuments Commission allowed us to take extraordinary educators to several of the hallowed battlefields and memorials of Europe,” National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn said. “Their unique experiences will now help teachers around the world bring history to life with the materials they added to”

"As the state agency that oversees the National History Day program in Iowa, we are extremely proud of Suzan Turner for her dedication and commitment to making sure the memory of our fallen heroes are remembered and shared forever," State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. "We encourage all Iowans to join us in congratulating her for this well-deserved honor."

The Understanding Sacrifice program is a year-long professional development project that focuses on fallen heroes of World War II who are buried or memorialized at ABMC cemeteries in Europe.

Designed to reinvigorate the study of World War II in American classrooms, lesson plans are multi-disciplinary and use primary and secondary sources, videos, and hands-on activities to transport students to the past to gain a vivid understanding of the high cost paid by all Americans during the war. Each lesson plan is based on scholarship and integrated with Common Core Standards.

Since 1994, the National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The year-long academic program encourages middle- and high-school students to conduct original research on historical topics. Students enter their projects at local and state contests, with top students advancing to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. More information is available at or 515-281-5111.

National History Day is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.
The American Battle Monuments Commission is an agency of the executive branch of the federal government, honoring the service, achievements and sacrifices of the U.S. armed forces abroad since April 6, 1917. ABMC manages and maintains 26 cemeteries and 30 federal memorials, monuments, and commemorative markers throughout the world. The commission also maintains three memorials in the United States.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department promotes creativity as a catalyst for innovation, empowers Iowans to preserve history, and shares the stories of Iowa to connect past, present and future generations.