Meet Bob Allen of Eldersburg, Md.
An interview with a Color Bearer member
"I’ve been a small-time donor to American Battlefields for quite a few years. From a financial perspective, being able to jump up to the Color Bearer level more recently gives me a sense of personal pride that I am doing my part."
Color Bearer Bob Allen
American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?
Bob: I can’t recall where or when I first became aware of CWBT/CWT/American Battlefield Trust. (It was at least two or three name changes ago!). But as soon as I did become aware of it, I began contributing. From the outset, I was incredibly impressed with the organization’s ability and expertise at raising money from so many sources and setting up matching funds campaigns and that sort of thing. I’ve always been equally impressed at how the organization partners with and supports the efforts of battlefield-specific preservation organizations such as The Gettysburg Foundation, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and Save Historic Antietam. Over the years, I have watched the Trust practically move mountains. It still seems incredible to me that the American Battlefields Trust was actually able to roll back the creeping tide of urban sprawl and reclaim Lee’s headquarters at Gettysburg. Also, I have to give credit to Ed Bearss. His high-profile involvement in the Trust definitely made me want to be a bigger part of the effort. Over 20 years or so, I had the opportunity of visiting numerous battlefields both here in the U.S.A. and Europe with Ed. A few years ago, I also had the pleasure of visiting Normandy with both Ed and Jim Lighthizer. Those two towering figures in the historic preservation movement have definitely inspired me. I’ll add one last point: I’ve always greatly enjoyed receiving “Hallowed Ground.” The articles and photos are consistently excellent, and I’m proud to have contributed an article to the publication along the way.
What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?
I’ve been a small-time donor to American Battlefields for quite a few years. From a financial perspective, being able to jump up to the Color Bearer level more recently gives me a sense of personal pride that I am doing my part. I also greatly enjoy attending the Color Bearer events and meeting a community of very dedicated and educated people who share my passion for history and historic preservation. I’m constantly learning from them.
What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?
I would say Antietam, because I first went there with my parents when I was just a kid, and during the 60 years since then it has drawn me back again and again. Shiloh is another favorite. Like Antietam, the landscape and the viewscapes are still rural, rustic and relatively unspoiled. More recently, I have also become quite attached to Gettysburg. For one thing, it’s the closest battlefield to me and various organizations such as the Gettysburg Foundation, the Association of Licensed Gettysburg Battlefield Guides and the Trust offer (and least in non-pandemic times) an array of guide walks, lectures and seminars throughout the year. There’s a great community of devoted people up there.
What would you like to pass on to future generations?
Strange as it may sound, I don’t have any children, so I don’t think that much beyond my own lifetime. But I am glad that future generations of young people will be able to visit American battlefields and get the same kind of thrill that I got years ago when my parents took me to Gettysburg and Antietam and I got to clamber up the observation towers, pose for pictures in front of the cannons and marvel at the old electric map.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
There are so many it’s hard to choose. I would say Dwight Eisenhower. A late friend of mine, ten or so years older than me, went to Gettysburg College back in the 1950s. Several times, the former president came to dinner at his fraternity. I would have loved to have been there for those dinners.