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Meet John McGuire of Suffield, Conn.

An interview with a Color Bearer member

Obviously, preservation of the battlefields, structures, and the environment that surround our history to bring home the importance of America to future generations. That requires education. It requires inspiration by the leaders of the Trust and its members.

Color Bearer John McGuire

Color Bearer John McGuire
Color Bearer John McGuire

American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?

John: I have had a long-time interest in the American Civil War since 1965 when I was bedridden for several months. I took that as an opportunity to read Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy. After my recovery, I made a Civil War tour through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to experience firsthand some of the places that Shelby Foote described. I was hooked! In recent years, my sons-in-law and I have made annual trips to Civil War sites. Normally we hire a guide who is familiar with particular battlefields and the history surrounding them. One of our guides suggested that we look into the Civil War Trust. I liked that the mission of the Trust included preservation: we enjoyed the battlefields; we enjoyed the guided histories, and we wanted to see them preserved for our children and grandchildren. But just as important, we were pleased that the Trust also used battlefield preservation to educate teachers and young people about the importance of our county’s history when seen in the context of the places where history was made. That experience is essential to an understanding of the American experiment. 

What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?

The Color Bearers’ weekend is extra special because it promotes camaraderie with other Color Bearers who share an interest in the mission of the Trust. There is nothing better than a bus tour with fellow Trust Members who have a wealth of experience in American History that goes beyond the purview of American battlefields. 

What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?

It would be easy to say Gettysburg because I’ve been there several times and learn more every time. My favorite Gettysburg guide is Gar Phillips who has enthralled us with details of the battle’s three days taken one day at a time over a long weekend. However, since my involvement with the American Battlefield Trust, I think my favorite battlefield is Franklin, Tennessee. I was introduced to Carrie McGavock of Carnton Plantation by Robert Hicks in his novel “Widow of the South”. The tour of the Carton Mansion and the nearby cemetery literally gave me goosebumps. 

What would you like to pass on to future generations?   

Obviously, preservation of the battlefields, structures, and the environment that surround our history to bring home the importance of America to future generations. That requires education. It requires inspiration by the leaders of the Trust and its members. 

If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?

My goodness! There are so many. Just off the top of my head – how about Aristotle, Jesus, Thomas Aquinas, Hamilton, Jefferson, Daniel Webster, Lincoln, Varina Davis or George Patton? So many more easily come to mind. But I think I would most identify with Alexander Hamilton. I would like to know his take on the Federalist Papers and his reaction to the American experience today. Have we gone far astray from the Founding Principles? Did he like the Broadway Musical?   

Anything else you want to share?   

As Sgt. Friday of the Los Angeles police said in the television show, Dragnet, “All we want are the facts….” The enjoyable and impressive role of the American Battlefield Trust is to present the facts – the good facts and the not so good facts; mistakes made by Americans of all ranks and political persuasions and the great acts performed in challenging circumstances. Let’s stay with the facts (not “woke” emotions) as the basic credo of the American Battlefield Trust.