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20 Jul 2019

Walk the Perryville Battlefield with Actor Steve Zahn

Walk the Perryville Battlefield with Actor Steve Zahn

As hundreds of American Battlefield Trust members and staff prepared to gather in Lexington, Kentucky for our Annual Conference in May, I was delighted to learn that actor Steve Zahn would be joining me to make a video for an incredible opportunity to save the proverbial "hole in the donut" at Perryville.

Zahn, whom you might know from That Thing You Do, Sahara, Reality Bites, Rescue Dawn, Dallas Buyers Club, Saving Silverman and other films, lives near Lexington, and is not only a history nerd but a preservationist—with a penchant for Perryville. He had already helped the Perryville Battlefield Association in numerous ways.

I spent several hours with Steve over the course of three days and I can tell you he knows his stuff and is super passionate about history and preservation. He needed no coaching as we walked the battlefield and he told me about which regiment or which battery fought where at which time of day! Throughout our discussions he marveled at the possibility of preserving this key tract of land.

In our time together, Steve told me many stories about his acting career and his interest in the Civil War, one of which I want to share with you. When he was performing in the production Bye Bye Birdie more than 20 years ago, he would take his free days and check out historical sites before the evening shows.

On one occasion he found himself pulling over at a yard sale near Harpers Ferry and to his amazement he saw a table with a real Confederate Zouave coat apparently for sale. He inquired of the woman in charge who said it belonged to her husband, who was out getting food, but that he could have it for $50! As Steve drove away with the coat, he imagined the husband coming back with a handful of burgers and look on his face when he learned that his coat had been sold for $50. That incredible artifact now sits in the Perryville Battlefield State historic site Museum and Visitors Center to which Steve donated the coat years ago.

I hope you enjoy the video and consider making a gift to get us close to completing one of the most important battlefields of the Civil War.

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American Battlefield Trust

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