By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The book “A Young Man on the Front Line: Lessons of War” celebrates the legacy and life of U.S. Army Sgt. Chris Makas, as written by his daughter Elaine Makas, who grew up listening to the stories she shares with readers.
Elaine Makas, 66, was born and raised in Dearborn with her sister and brother, graduating from Edsel Ford High School. Her father, moved to Dearborn in 1950 after serving in World War II, worked for Ford Motor Co. and also volunteered at the Henry Ford Museum for over 17 years.
When Elaine Makas sat down to create the book, she wrote it for high school students to understand World War II but also to honor her father and veterans who are passing so their sacrifice isn’t forgotten.
The book writing process began in March for Makas with the extra alone time she had after retiring as a curriculum consultant this year, making it her COVID-19 project.
She used her dad’s diaries, written down stories and historical information setting up all the information so it all flowed together. Makas also made sure to build connections to characters with the accurate history data for people who enjoyed reading about history.
“As I wrote the book, I originally throught of the high school audience, but as people read the manuscript it seemed that veterans were interested in the book,” she said. “The chapters are set up with a lesson of war for discussion at the end of each one.”
In August, Makas finished writing the book and began working to edit and gather photos from her father’s personal photo album.
“My favorite part was seeing the book come alive,” she said, “and as I wrote, it became more live to me, seeing it go from flat to having a lot of depth.”
Chris Makas fought on the front lines of the southern invasion of Germany in 1944 as part of the Company B, 255th regiment, 1st Battalion, 63rd Infantry Division.
“During his time serving, my father was friends with four others who became tight knit on the way to Europe,” Elaine Makas said. “Years later they reconnected and remained a tight knit group.”
Although Chris Makas died in 2015, Elaine Makas was able to take her father’s stories and experiences of him being a solider and bring readers on his journey during and post World War II.
“I hope people learn about the unity they had as Americans who were committed to protecting each other and doing well for their nation,” she said. “Also, this book will allow people to see how trauma is built and health with including how soldiers adapted during battles and serving because a lot of people now have trauma especially when they come home.”
Today, Makas lives in Frankenmuth after a career of over 40 years in education as a professor of educational leadership at the University of Michigan, public school teacher, administrator, director of instructional services, and teacher professional development.
She was a private coach for failing schools in the areas of curriculum and accreditation through her company Curriculum Connections, LLC.
In 2010, Makas completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Oakland University in 2010 and also has a Specialist degree from Saginaw Valley State University in educational leadership, a master’s from Central Michigan University in school guidance, and a bachelor’s from Western Michigan University in history.
She is the mother of four sons.
Makas authored two educational books, “From Mandate to Achievement” and “Career Pathways: Preparing Students for Life” co-authored with Pam Ill.
The book, “A Young Man on the Front Line: Lessons of War” is set to release Dec. 7 and can be purchased at www.twosisterswriting.com/store/lessons-of-war.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])