Ed Bearss is an American icon. Chief Historian emeritus at the National Park Service, World War Two veteran, and the father of Civil War battlefield preservation, the Smithsonian recognized him in 2005 as one of thirty-five people who, along with such notables as Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Wynton Marsalis, have immeasurably enriched our lives over the last quarter century. Now 89 years old, Bearss continues to pursue the one thing he has loved almost his entire life: history.
On the outside, he looks less than impressive with his patent t-shirt, walking cane, and baseball cap. He strikes the pose of the temperate grandfatherly figure to those who are fortunate to follow along on one of dozens of tours he leads each year. On the inside, however, he elicits a stream of consciousness and unwavering memory in weaving a complex story about the past that involves a cast of historical characters that can often seem like its right out of a William Faulkner novel. This 48-60 minute documentary takes a look at Bearss life, from growing up in Montana, to his service in World War II, to his career in the National Park Service, to his championing Civil War battlefield preservation.