Saving Consecrated Ground

  • Arts & Culture
  • 2012

When John Nau was eight years old, his family visited a Civil War battlefield in Kentucky. Walking the contested land created a yearning in the boy and a fascination with history that never faded. He grew up to become CEO of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributor, a major donor to the University of Virginia, a philanthropic leader in historic preservation, and one of the nation’s most active donors to the protection of Civil War battlefields. He and his wife funded, for instance, the transformation of 90 acres of the Vicksburg siege site—where there were 20,000 American casualties—back to what they looked like at the time of the clash, allowing visitors to re-live the heat of the climactic battle. As a donor and volunteer with the Civil War Trust, Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, National Park Foundation, Texas State Historical Association, Gilder-Lehrman Institute, and other groups, Nau has donated and raised many millions of dollars to protect all sorts of hallowed grounds across the nation.