(Washington, D.C.) - In a statement released today, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) announced a major gift from the estate of historian and ardent preservationist Brian C. Pohanka, who passed away in June 2005. In his will, Pohanka left CWPT — with whom he has been associated since its earliest days — a bequest totaling $1 million earmarked for land acquisition.
In acknowledging the gift, CWPT President James Lighthizer said that the donation is telling of the innumerable contributions Pohanka made to the cause of historic preservation over the years.
"From the very beginnings of the Civil War battlefield preservation movement, Brian Pohanka led the charge," remarked Lighthizer. "He not only gave of his time and talents, but frequently and generously reached into his wallet as well. We at the Civil War Preservation Trust are proud to carry on the work he began nearly two decades ago."
Pohanka's generosity to battlefield preservation was unequalled. In addition to the $1 million bequest, he and his wife Cricket quietly donated an equal amount to CWPT in 2004. Over the years, Pohanka gave generously to CWPT and countless other local battlefield preservation groups — in his will, he also set aside money for the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust ($500,000), the Richmond Battlefields Association ($500,000), and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation ($200,000).
In recognition for Pohanka's outstanding contributions to battlefield preservation, in 2004 he was named CWPT's Preservationist of the Year during ceremonies in Nashville, Tenn. At the ceremony, one of Brian's last public appearances, he urged the preservation community to continue the struggle to save this nation's irreplaceable hallowed battlegrounds.
Cricket Bauer Pohanka, who recently agreed to join CWPT's Board of Trustees, said she is confident that the bequest would be used to create a legacy of which he would be proud. "Brian placed an immense value on the preservation of our Civil War battlefields," she said, "and to see the sites he so cared about perpetually protected will be a fitting tribute to his life and his work."
According to Lighthizer, Pohanka was frequently quoted as saying the inspiration for his tireless efforts was the idea that a century from now a child might become as interested in the Civil War as Brian was in his own youth. That child, Pohanka often said, must still have the opportunity to visit our battlefields, our hallowed grounds, and absorb their lessons. "With this gift, Brian has truly made that vision a reality, giving us the power to protect more of that ground for generations yet to come," Lighthizer said.
Lighthizer concluded his remarks by stating: "Author, living historian, preservationist, consultant, friend; Brian touched us and our work in so many ways. He is truly missed, but we will make sure that his dedication and his contributions will not be forgotten."
With 75,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation's remaining Civil War battlefields. Since 1987, the organization has saved more than 22,000 acres of hallowed ground. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.