Meet Phil LeDuc of Seattle, Wash.
An interview with a Color Bearer member
"A passion for history since childhood, and a growing appreciation of the importance of history education and historical preservation made support of the Trust a natural."
Color Bearer Phil LeDuc
American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?
Phil: A passion for history since childhood, and a growing appreciation of the importance of history education and historical preservation made support of the Trust a natural. I had already been supporting the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation since the late 1970's, and sometime in the 1980's I began receiving Jerry Russell's Civil War Round Table Associates newsletter, probably by responding to an ad in Civil War Times Illustrated. As a result, I contributed to some early preservation groups, and eventually I began supporting the Civil War Trust, as it was then called, in 1996, so it's now been 25 years.
What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?
The enjoyment of being a Color Bearer comes in several ways. First, there's the great satisfaction in being able to be a part of the battlefield preservation movement in some small way, and knowing that these battlefields will be saved, I hope, for future generations for all time. Second, being a Color Bearer, and a member of the American Battlefield Trust in general, provides the opportunity for increased learning. Annual events like the Annual Conference or the Grand Review are great learning opportunities, as well as a chance to get together with fellow enthusiasts and students (I balk at the term "buffs") of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Also, because I live so far away (Seattle, WA) from the theaters of those wars, the increased online videos have been wonderful. Third, membership has been a great way to establish friendships that have lasted for years.
What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?
This is a tough one. Save for a relatively quick visit to Chickamauga, my visits have been exclusively to eastern theatre Civil War battlefields. Gettysburg was the first battlefield I ever visited, and I've returned several times. And yet, I think my favorite is Antietam. There is still a pristine quality about it and the surrounding area - at least during the last time I was there several years ago - that makes it special. That said, I also have to put a word in for memorable visits to Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville accompanied by Bob Krick; the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox with groups led by Gary Gallagher and cohorts; and more.
What would you like to pass on to future generations?
I agree wholeheartedly with the proposition that these battlefields, besides being "hallowed ground" worthy of preservation and memorialization in themselves, are classrooms in which future generations can learn more about our past. As the study of history gets more and more subsumed into "social studies" and similar titles and topics, it becomes all the more important for the discipline of "History" to be taught to Americans of all ages, so that we can learn about the men, women, and events that have shaped us.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
Another very difficult question! I don't think I could choose just one figure - it would have to be a "round the dinner table" scenario for invitees most likely to participate in illuminative conversation. And so there would be John Adams, John Marshall, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, U. S. Grant, R. E. Lee, and Theodore Roosevelt. I've confined the group to Americans only (otherwise Napoleon and Winston Churchill would be there) and pre-20th-century figures (so no Dwight Eisenhower). There would be other dinners and invitees for discussion of more specific topics.
Anything else you want to share?
For the younger generations - find a cause or purpose (and I exclude the political or semi-political) that you believe in and find enjoyment in supporting and start early! Yes, it isn't easy when you're starting out and have other priorities - starting a relationship or family, finding or establishing a career, etc. - but there can be such satisfaction in supporting a cause (perhaps like battlefield preservation?) that can lead to lifetime learning and friendships.