PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) -- Joseph Nowinski, a social studies teacher at Almond-Bancroft, was one of 18 teachers nationwide selected to research and deliver a eulogy of a fallen hero in France during the 100th commeration of World War I this June.
That hero was Sylvester Machinski who was born in Wisconsin and fought in World War I. To this day relatives of this hero still live in Portage County.
Machinski was born in Wild Rose and lived there for 18 years before moving to Chicago where he started a family. In June of 1917 he was drafted and went to war.
He later succumbed to the Spanish Flu and died in 1918. He was buried in France where Nowinski presented his eulogy.
After much of his research Nowinski said he became attached to these forgotten heroes. "What happens when you don't know someone, you can't even see a picture of them but they feel like family," explained Joseph Nowinski.
Nowinski says he will bring this experience back to the classroom to give his students a better understanding of the past and present. "It's that past that helps us understand what brought us here and if we don't have an understanding of that we probably won't have the best future. We can learn a lot from the past and that gives us this present," said Nowinski.
The program Memorializing the Fallen is a teacher professional development program from National History Day and sponsored by the World War I Centennial Commission.