Fraser student, teacher head to Hawaii for history program

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published June 22, 2022

 Fraser student Zack Howey and social studies teacher Tara Fugate, pictured during National History Day in 2020, will be heading to Hawaii as part of the Sacrifice for Freedom program.

Fraser student Zack Howey and social studies teacher Tara Fugate, pictured during National History Day in 2020, will be heading to Hawaii as part of the Sacrifice for Freedom program.

Photo provided by Tara Fugate


FRASER — A Fraser High School student and his history teacher will be heading to Hawaii in July as part of an exploration into World War II history through the Sacrifice for Freedom program.

“I was attracted to the program because of the opportunity to learn how to be a better researcher,” Fraser student Zach Howey said. “I’ve always enjoyed researching veterans and getting their stories and thought this program would help me learn new ways of researching.”

Howey, who recently completed his sophomore year at the school, and his former social studies teacher from Richards Middle School, Tara Fugate, began working on the project as a new means of exploring history.

Fugate said the trip is the culmination of months of work.

“Zack and I applied for it back in the fall, and then we were one of 16 teacher-student teams to be selected,” she explained. “What we did from January until June was, we did a class together learning about the Pacific Theater in World War II. As part of the program, we are going to spend a week in Hawaii researching the attack on Pearl Harbor at Pearl Harbor. So, we will go see the memorials, spend a night on USS Missouri, and visit a military base.”

The program was directed toward student-teacher pairs such as Howey and Fugate to select a veteran who died during the Pearl Harbor attack and dig into their individual story.

“(What) we have been doing through this program is researching a Michigan service member who died on Dec. 7, 1941,” Fugate said. “We chose George Ham Cannon because Zack was interested in the fact that he was the first Marine who was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.”

Howey said he selected Cannon due to an interest in the history of the Marine Corps.

“I chose George Ham Cannon because I’ve always been very interested in the Marine Corps, and I have become friends with other medal of honor recipients, so I thought he would be fun to research to see what made him rise to a higher level,” he said. “I hope to get a better and deeper understanding as to what all those soldiers and civilians felt that horrid day in American history, and I also hope to meet others that have my same passions about military history.”

“Zack is creating a eulogy for George Ham Cannon,” Fugate added. “We will do our research and visit the site, and then the Sacrifice for Freedom program will publish the eulogy.”

Howey has a longstanding passion for history, particularly historical military reenactments.

“I enjoy the reenactments because I learn from others, and I get to teach others about our military history,” he said. “I feel that it is extremely important to teach as many people as possible. I also enjoy doing military displays where I can display veterans’ items and tell their stories. I believe that if a veteran’s name and story are spoken, they will live on forever and not be forgotten. This ties into the program because I have another veteran’s story to share, and I’ll actually get to learn about such an important event at the location where it happened, and I’ll be able to use this experience to teach others.”

The trip will take place July 24-30. It is part of a larger National History Day initiative, which Fugate has worked on with her students in the past. Working on it with Howey in previous years is what led him to team up with her on this project.

“I run a National History Day program for Fraser Public Schools, and Zack has been participating since the eighth grade,” Fugate said. “Students build a project according to our theme each year. Zack was very involved, and he learned about the Sacrifice for Freedom program. He’s very interested in collecting stories from veterans. He goes to shows and interviews veterans quite a bit, so this was of particular interest to him. He asked to apply, so we did.”

She went on to say that she is excited to explore history in such a hands-on way, especially after months of work.

“It is a really unique experience getting to research a historical event at the place it happened,” she said. “It is a very interesting opportunity — the independent research we did on the veteran we chose because we got to dig into his history and see how he was connected to this huge international event. It really reframes how you look at the war because you are looking at it through the lens of one person’s experiences.”

Howey said he hopes his research will help others have a better understanding of history.

“I hope they learn about what our American heroes went through in World War II,” he said. “I also hope I can spark others to become interested in American military history.”