Bolton High School Is Making History

by Hans DePold, town historian
(Published in the Bolton Community News, December 2001)

Last year, in a meeting at our Bolton Senior Center, Congressman John Larson accepted the role of champion for a national historic trail that would honor Washington, Rochambeau, and other patriots. Most significantly, the trail was used to move the 5,000-man French allied army that had soldiers from 16 nations who spoke in four languages.

On November 16 of this year, Bolton High students Ashley Moske, Billy Bogner, Andrew Nightingale, and Erika Scopino, and students of the Rensselaer MBA program recorded an important interview in the Community Voice Channel studio concerning the proposed Revolutionary War national historic trail through our town. It was part of a new extracurricular program led by Bolton history teacher Mark O'Neill that captured the attention of the highest levels of the DAR, SAR, and the Society of the Cincinnati. These students have also begun recording video histories of Bolton residents.

Marolyn Paulis, the recent president of the Connecticut Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and now the D.A.R. focal point for this national trail proposal, praised the students as just what was needed so that America can continue to stand for the values of liberty and justice for which the patriots fought. She mentioned that the French were building a tall ship that would be sailing to America to celebrate Lafayette's role in the American Revolution. Lafayette rode through Bolton on five occasions.

Russ Wirtalla, the recent president of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and VP General for the New England states, is now the national S.A.R. focal point for this national trail proposal and heads up a committee representing the nine states along the route. Russ spoke of the need to remember the very difficult struggle of our forefathers for independence from the strongest colonial empire in the world and to always present the patriots' story truthfully and honorably. He spoke also of the great celebration that is planned for the trail in 2006 on the 225th anniversary.

Jay Jackson, past president of the Society of the Cincinnati (SoC) in the state of Connecticut, former member of the Connecticut Historical Commission, legal counsel to two former Connecticut governors, current national President General for the Society of the Cincinnati, current Chancellor (or legal advisor) for the Connecticut S.A.R., and the SoC's national focal point for this national trail proposal, spoke of meeting with the French ambassador two weeks ago and how the French government was in support of the trail, which could come about as early as 2004 and certainly before 2006.

Congressman John Larson planned to be a member of the panel but the bill for airport security came up for a vote that day.

Congressman John Larson's study received the support of all the federal representatives and senators from Connecticut and all the federal representatives along the route. They not only supported the proposal, they co-sponsored the legislation. Then, in extra innings, Congressman Larson and Senator Lieberman had the bill brought to a vote where it passed without a single vote of opposition. On November 9, 2000, it was signed by the president and became Public Law No. 106-473. Congressman Larson's next trail legislation will be for the creation of the trail itself.

The Rensselaer MBA students and Bolton High School students asked a total of 18 questions, which will be used by the Rensselaer group to propose the structure and goals for an organization to support the trail legislation and assist in the stewardship of the trail once it is created. The entire television crew consisted of Bolton High School students, who did an excellent job coordinating the cameras and sound. The program will be put together over the next month and it will be announced when it goes on the air on the Community Voice Channel.