The story of a Nashua soldier killed while fighting in Europe in 1945 is part of a new smart phone app created by the Trust for the National Mall to help the latest generation understand the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.
The app, which can be downloaded on both Apple and Android phones and devices, was created by the trust as part of the organization's 21st Century Learning Initiative. The Trust, in partnership with the National Parks Service, oversees the National Mall — including the World War II memorial visited by millions every year — according to Trust President Caroline Cunningham.
The app, unveiled last week, appeals to a generation that communicates electronically, said Farrah Kim, public relations representative for the trust. The app contains detailed maps of the World War II memorial, interactive activities such as a scavenger hunt, and information about crucial battles in both Europe and the Pacific.
"Initiatives like this will help to educate a whole new generation about the National Mall and what it stands for," said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. "We know that young people are interacting with the world in new ways and that the National Park Service needs to keep up if we are to remain relevant. This app will help us do that."
The app seeks to bring the memorial home with information about the contributions each state made to the war effort. According to the app, for instance, more than 60,000 men and women from New Hampshire, out of a 1940 population of 491,524, served during the war. The app also personalizes the war by telling the story of one service member from each state. For New Hampshire, that soldier is PFC Paul Lavoie of Nashua. Lavoie joined the Army on Feb. 9, 1943, a month before his 20th birthday, and eventually traveled with Company C of the 309th regiment, 78th division across the Atlantic.
He was killed in action on Feb. 10, 1945, at the Schwammenauel Dam in Schmidt, Germany. Lavoie's story was painstakingly researched by his niece, Aimee Fogg of Gilsum, who set out on a journey to discover the missing pieces of her uncle's story and wound up in Belgium at the Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery, where he is buried. Fogg, who never met her uncle, later began researching the stories of other New Hampshire troops buried at Henri-Chapelle, and wrote a book to honor them, "Granite Men."
"People argue that the younger generations are going to forget about World War II," Fogg said, "but here you have members of younger generations who took the time and interest to create an app that honors the Greatest Generation."
The app isn't just for young people, Kim said, but for anyone visiting the memorial. The Trust for the National Mall has a goal of creating similar apps for all of the war memorials on the Mall.