|Ed Bearss, left, and Brian Pohanka (photo by Rudy Perini)|
I was fortunate to get to know Brian first through his writing for Civil War Regiments quarterly, when we published one of his pieces on the 5th New York, and later through his participation in the Civil War Forum, when he attended some of our annual get-togethers. The photo at top was the 4th CWF gathering, 2000, with Ed and Brian on the Mississippi River at Vicksburg (photo by Rudy Perini). Brian was also a mover and a shaker in the area of battlefield preservation. A 2006 press release from the Civil War Preservation Trust—the preeminent preservation organization for Civil War sites (see the previous blog entry discussing CWPT's new website)—details Pohanka's all-but-anonymous, and stunning generosity:
From the very beginnings of the Civil War battlefield preservation movement, Brian Pohanka led the charge. He not only gave of his time and talents, but frequently and generously reached into his wallet as well. We at Civil War Preservation Trust are proud to carry on the work he began nearly two decades ago.’
Pohanka’s generosity to battlefield preservation was unequalled. In addition to the $1 million bequest, he and his wife Cricket quietly donated an equal amount to CWPT in 2004. Over the years, Pohanka gave generously to both CWPT and countless other local battlefield preservation groups—in his will, he also set aside money for the Central Virginia Battlegrounds Trust ($500,000), the Richmond Battlefields Association ($500,000), and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation ($200,000).
I have a photo of Brian and Cricket at a dinner with my son when he graduated from GWU that sits on my end table. It is hard to believe that this occurred 5 years ago. In addition to how generous they both were to me with their historical knowledge and friendship; they were always very kind to my son. While my son was away in DC, I felt a little better knowing that he had friends close by if he needed help.
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