Certainly being with other like-minded, passionate people who love Civil War history is wonderful. However, the greatest thrill is to go to a battlefield where the Trust has invested in recovering a previously ‘lost’ battlefield segment is exhilarating! Seeing the prior pig farm at Petersburg now a beautiful, vast area with trenches & fortifications all marked out is a blast.
Jim Lett, Color Bearer
Color Bearer Jim Lett
American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?
Jim: I have always loved Civil War history and the men and women who made it so unique and real to me. Sadly, through experience with my daughters' education and discussions with other parents, I found American history is poorly taught, if taught at all. Whenever I visit a Civil War battlefield with my grandchildren, friends or others who have little knowledge of the war, being on the battlefield really puts them in touch with what happened during the war. Walking the fields where so many fought and many died, seeing the displays and reading the plaques puts everyone in touch with our amazing past. It also puts them in touch with how those Americans shaped who we are and what our country has become. Preserving our battlefields with genuine, truthful guidance is the best way I can imagine to preserve for my grandchildren and future generations a touchstone with our heritage.
What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?
Certainly being with other like-minded, passionate people who love Civil War history is wonderful. However, the greatest thrill is to go to a battlefield where the CWT has invested in recovering a previously "lost" battlefield segment is exhilarating! Seeing the prior pig farm at Petersburg now a beautiful, vast area with trenches and fortifications all marked out is a blast. I visited Glorieta battlefield in New Mexico recently. The NPS guide spontaneously pointed out the work done by the Trust when he saw my CWT baseball cap and praised the work of the CWT to the group on the tour. I cannot tell you how proud I was at that moment of our preservation and interpretation work. I love seeing the visible results of our efforts. At my stage in life, a persistent thought is "What will I leave behind?" My choice beyond family and their futures is a legacy of Americans uniting behind a terrible but, sadly, necessary era in our history. How, like families, we have had our squabbles but emerged beyond this to be the most amazing nation in history. And, the hope that instead of the Civil War being kidnapped to exploit our divisions as it is now, it will once again become the vehicle to unite us all.
What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?
Franklin, TN has to be the battlefield that most moves me. Certainly the work of the Trust is just so apparent there. But also there is a sense of incredible men in Blue and Gray who performed acts of heroics and honor that I could never accomplish. And, as I stand at the Carter House and Carnton I really sense them as if their efforts were so notable that there remains a presence of them even to this day. This happens each time I visit. I had visited Franklin prior to the preservation efforts of the CWT. To see it now only makes me more inspired to do more there. Eliminating the pizza parlor there is a perfect example of what we have gained. After a few slices of pizza, I am sated and done with pizza. But, I can never get enough of the Franklin battlefield and what transpired there.
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