I got interested in the Civil War because of art. I saw the Ken Burns series in 1990 and loved it but it didn't inspire me to go out and search out Civil War sites although, being in Washington DC, I was near quite a few of them. It wasn't until 1997 when, while driving on the interstate in Maryland, I saw the sign for Sharpsburg for the umpteenth time and decided to visit a Civil War battlefield site. Once there, what struck me were the statues. I loved the stories they portrayed. That instantly hooked me and I found I was touring the park looking for other statues, then getting curious about the battlefield itself.
Pretty quickly, I decided to visit other Civil War sites. I kept running into sites that were crediting a group called the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS) for buying the land and preventing it from being developed.
I believe we have a responsibility to pay our share for things that we consume so, in 1998, I joined the APCWS. Park rangers were also praising another preservation group -- the Civil War Trust -- so I joined that one also. I thought it was the best of all possible worlds when both of "my" preservation groups joined to become what would ultimately end up being called the Civil War Trust again.
I knew the Trust was protecting battlefields but it's also a membership organization. They have regularly-scheduled conferences for members. I went to my first conference in 1999 with some trepidation. Would I be surrounded by "the South will rise again" fanatics? But I found the members to be open, intelligent, fascinating people who shared my passion for the battlefields.
The Trust itself was this to the nth power, plus being dedicated, inspired, professional, and practical. This was a great organization doing great things. The more I checked, the more impressed I was with the organization. Park rangers spoke almost in awe of it. Famous authors were donating their time to lead Trust members on tours. And Charity Navigator's continually high ratings independently reassured me that my money was being well spent.
Seventy-some donations later, I'm proud of what the Civil War Trust has accomplished and that I'm a part of it.
Review from CharityNavigator