Meet Alex Czurylo of Oak Park, Illinois
An interview with a Color Bearer member
I was a history major in college and was always fascinated by how so many hundreds of thousands of young men took up the call to fight to preserve the Union and end slavery. So many women, men and families sacrificed so much to this cause. I wanted to preserve the areas where these heroes gave their lives for future generations.
Alex Czurylo, Color Bearer
American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?
Alex: I was a history major in college and was always fascinated by how so many hundreds of thousands of young men took up the call to fight to preserve the Union and end slavery. So many women, men and families sacrificed so much to this cause. I wanted to preserve the areas where these heroes gave their lives for future generations. It was appalling to me that Walmarts and strip malls were being built on or even near these sacred grounds.
What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?
The special opportunities to learn and interact with so many people deeply dedicated to the cause.
What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?
This is a tough one. I would say Antietam because it is so pristine and away from the sprawl of a lot of other battlefields. It's truly a special place to reflect.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
China. The history of China is magical. Its trading has brought the world so many wonderful things and their culture is so unique in the history of the world. I would love to visit someday and immerse myself more fully into it.
What would you like to pass on to future generations?
I really want to pass on the importance of understand and appreciating history and what we can learn from the past. This is by far my most concerning aspect of the day, the fact that so many children and teens cannot explain basic tenets of both American and global history. For so many, war is a 'fun' video game. But war is anything but fun. And standing on sacred Civil War battlefield ground can help everyone understand what was asked of these young men and women. I have also visited the American Cemetery in Normandy and seeing the rows of white crosses had a profound impact on me and would have a profound impact on anyone. It's preserving and visiting and learning from these places that we can make the world a better place.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
Frederick Douglass. Such an amazing human being. He rose from slavery and spent his entire life fighting for the equality of all people, slaves, women, immigrants, everyone! He endured so much pain and hatred, both as a slave and after he became free, yet he persevered and fought until the very end of his life. A truly heroic American.
Anything else you want to share?
I am truly honored to be a part of this organization for almost 20 years! The amount of land saved is enormous, ensuring that all future generations can walk these sacred grounds and understand all of the sacrifices that were made on both sides. We need better study of the past to understand the future!