Bipartisan Legislation Awards Congressional Gold Medal To Men & Women Who Fought To Preserve Cultural Artifacts In World War II

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) applauded Congress’s passage of a bipartisan bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the men and women who worked to protect cultural artifacts during World War II, dubbed the “Monuments Men.” The bill was introducedby Blunt and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (N.J.) and co-sponsored by 76 of their colleagues.“I’m pleased Congress overwhelmingly passed this legislation to recognize the incredible men and women who fought to protect and preserve millions of invaluable cultural artifacts during World War II,” Blunt said. “I thank my colleagues and Mr. Edsel for their efforts as we work to ensure the remarkable legacies of America’s Monuments Men live on for future generations.”The Monuments Men are a group of approximately 350 men and women from 13 countries who are credited with preserving, protecting, and restoring millions of pieces of artwork, sculptures, and other cultural artifacts in Europe during World War II. Thirteen Monuments Men lived or worked in Missouri, including: St. Louis, Mo.-native, army medic and artist, Walker Hancock; two Directors of the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo.; three University of Missouri professors, and others who worked in the arts across the state.

“I am so proud that the Congressional Gold Medal will now be awarded to the brave men and women who rescued, protected and preserved innumerable works of art and artifacts that would have been lost forever during World War II,” Menendez said. “It was my honor to call Harry Ettlinger, one of the surviving members of the Monuments Men, this morning and let him know that on behalf of our nation, and for the sake of our next generation – thank you.”

“This is an extraordinary honor for the Monuments Men that gives even more special meaning to Memorial Day. The men and women who collectively comprised the Monuments Men set the standard for the protection of artistic and cultural treasures during armed conflict working under the most harsh conditions imaginable,” said Robert Edsel, Founder and Chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation, and author of The Monuments Men. “We honor their service by learning from their rich legacy of showing respect for the cultures of others. The Monuments Men Foundation is grateful to the supporters of this Senate bill, in particular its lead sponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt, as well as Sen. Robert Menendez, for their tireless efforts to recognize the contributions of the scholar-soldiers who protected and preserved so much of our shared cultural heritage.”

The recent “Monuments Men”  movie, starring John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, and Billy Murray, is based on Edsel’s book.For additional background on the Monuments Men, please click here.

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