Web site is dedicated to Brian Pohanka, without whom the
site and most of its content would not exist. It is with
great sadness I write that Brian passed away on June 15,
Pohanka outside his home in Alexandria, Virginia in
known as a respected Civil War historian, writer, battlefield
preservationist, and historical consultant for a number
of Civil War-related films such as "Glory" and
"Cold Mountain," Brian also studied the Great
War and had visited battlefields at the Western Front
on several occasions.
Through my friendship with Brian as a student of the Civil
War, he generously shared his knowledge on other studies
he pursued, such as WWI and soldiers who fought in it.
As a result of our email exchanges, Brian introduced me
to several of the poets whose works are represented at
this site, and inspired me to create this Web site to
honor the soldier poets who gave their lives in sacrifice
for their country and their cause.
I may digress, I would like to give an example of Brian's
graciousness and encouragement as a teacher, mentor and
friend, and his sensitivity towards humanity and living
things -- in particular, his ability to empathize with
those who suffered the cruelties of war.
In the summer of the Year 2000, when I mentioned to Brian
that I was going to create a Web site dedicated to him
and to honor the Great War poets I most admire, Brian
commented in email messages on Tuesday, July 25, 2000:
idea. There are so many fine "war poems" --
that will be an excellent addition, if a bit of work.
...While perhaps somewhat embarrassed by any dedication,
I also appreciate it. I will see if I can find some
photos that might be useable in some way....
willing to assist, Brian suggested an idea for the front
in designing it [the front page] you can do some artwork
that shows red poppies (In Flanders Fields...) and barbed
wire with grass -- sort of the cruelty and the natural
beauty that most of them [the soldiers] could not fail
to notice above the hell below, etc.
exchanged subsequent emails on the topic of the proposed
artwork for the front page. On Saturday, July 29, 2000,
idea, if you draw it, would be barbed wire and a helmet
-- maybe with a bullet hole in it -- and poppies growing
-- sort of implying the healing power of Nature, and
of the human spirit -- the wire and helmet beginning
to rust, as Nature reclaims what has been ravaged by
began researching the types of helmets worn by soldiers
in WWI and asked Brian for his assistance, to which he
replied on Sunday, July 30, 2000:
Brodie Helmet is essentially the World War Two style
of the World War One helmet. The WWII helmet was smooth
and greenish in color -- the WWI helmet was essentially
the same shape, but with a rougher exterior, and of
a sort of brownish hue.... I would recommend not doing
the sketch in color except for the poppies -- the juxtaposition
of the b/w or sort of sepia/bw with the color -- the
dark with the red -- death with life, etc -- would work
then asked Brian for his suggestion on the type of medium
in which to render the proposed sketch, and he wrote on
Monday, July 31, 2000:
don't have a specific medium in mind -- I think that
something somewhat muted, but with the poppies showing
up would work -- that is, juxtaposition of the drab
and the horrible -- mud, etc. -- with sinister wire,
the suggestion of death of the punctured helmet -- but
then the beauty of the poppies -- and recall the poem
["In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae] mentions
"the larks still bravely singing fly / scarce heard
amidst the guns below" -- or something like that
anyhow -- And Owen's ["Spring
Offensive"] how the buttercups "blessed
with gold our slow boots coming up" -- the poets
saw the Natural beauty even amidst the carnage.
seeing an image of the composite prototype sketch that
was rendered in pencils of various kinds, Brian commented
on Sunday, August 6, 2000:
like the artwork -- that is much as I imagined it....
I might suggest adding a few more poppies, and, perhaps,
developing the ground a bit -- some grass, untended
as if the fields have begun to reclaim the churned mud
of the battlefield... just a thought. But the helmet
is exactly what I was thinking of, and the wire is good
vision of the sketch was fulfilled in the final execution
of the artwork shown on the front page and in the site
miss Brian: His loyalty, friendship, lyrical prose, and
noble spirit that quietly endured even in the face of
adversity. He was idealistic and dedicated to his causes
to the finish, ever-vigilant about preserving the memory
of those soldiers he so admired and the grounds upon which
they fought -- a great and neverending fight against real
estate development on the East Coast in the United States.
In his heart, Brian was akin to his heroes, and I shall
always remember him with deep admiration and affection.
He was a sterling example of a friend, to the very end.
June 21, 2005