Meet Roger Kaplan of Vienna, Va.
An interview with a Color Bearer member
“I want future generations to know that the United States cannot exist unless they are willing to make the sacrifices that past generations made to create and then preserve our Nation.”
Roger Kaplan, Color Bearer
American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?
Roger: The name was all the convincing I needed to donate to the then Civil War Trust. I had no idea the Trust existed until I came across it while leafing through the 2010 Combined Federal Campaign’s list of charitable organizations. After that initial donation, the next logical step was to become a Color Bearer.
What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?
It’s knowing that the Trust has that much more money to assist operations and fundraising. I’ll start attending Color Bearer events now that I am retired and COVID has gone into remission, but conferences, tours, and other special events can never beat the intangible satisfaction of giving.
What is your favorite battlefield you have visited?
Antietam is by far my favorite. It is the only battle that could have ended the Civil War in Napoleonic fashion — a one-day action that would have terminated all campaigning, such as Austerlitz, which ended the War of the Third Coalition in a December action that lasted from dawn to dusk. It is also a very demanding battlefield to understand. Unlike Gettysburg, its compartmented topography requires far more knowledge and insight. Aside from a hidden swale halfway to Cemetery Ridge, anyone can grasp the challenge that confronted Pickett and the 11 brigades as they advanced against the Union line. In contrast, a visitor standing in the Bloody Lane has no idea what lays beyond the high ground to their front. The battlefield’s overlooked status also endears it to me. Antietam does not have its own interstate exit like Bull Run, and the Interstate 40 exit sign doesn’t even mention it. However, Antietam’s relative isolation has one advantage — one can visit it virtually year-round without having to deal with the tourist legions that bedevil Gettysburg in the summer.
What would you like to pass on to future generations?
I want future generations to know that the United States cannot exist unless they are willing to make the sacrifices that past generations made to create and then preserve our Nation. Nothing better exemplifies those sacrifices or is so readily available than the hallowed grounds of the Revolution, War of 1812, and Civil War, so Trust’s efforts to preserve these battlefields and educate the public about what took place there are truly invaluable.
If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
I would most want to meet Abraham Lincoln — an incredible leader, visionary, statesman, and citizen. He embodies so many virtues. Plus, preserving the America that the founding fathers envisioned would have been impossible without him. I particularly find his articulate speeches awe-inspiring, especially when one considers he received virtually no formal education.