On this day, thirteen years ago, on the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, Robert M. Edsel announced the founding of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Congresswoman Kay Granger hosted the ceremony at Congress, coincident with passage of Resolutions in both Houses that for the first time honored the service of the Monuments Men and Women of all fourteen nations. Four Monuments Men attended the ceremony – Bernard Taper, James Reeds, Harry Ettlinger, and Horace Apgar – along with the ambassadors and chargé d’affairs of many European countries.
In his remarks, Founder and Chairman Robert M. Edsel outlined the mission of the Foundation as that of preserving the legacy of the unprecedented and heroic work of the Monuments Men and Women during World War II by raising public awareness on the importance of protecting and safeguarding civilization's most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict.
Since then, the Foundation has introduced these men and women, from fourteen nations, to a global audience through books, documentaries, a feature film, and an investigative television series. The term “Monuments Men” has become ubiquitous; journalists now use it without explanation. Volunteers in war-torn areas, and at sites of natural disasters, regularly refer to themselves as modern-day Monuments Men.
Using the public’s unceasing interest in stories about World War II, the Foundation continues to engage and inspire audiences. In 2015 the work of the Foundation has resulted in these heroes being honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian award. Additionally, it has continued the mission of the Monuments Men and Women by locating and returning some of the hundreds of thousands of works of art and other cultural treasures still missing to their rightful owners.
So many people, including presidents of the United States, members of Congress, various celebrities, key donors, and simple people of good will, came to our aid when we needed them the most. The success of the Foundation owes much to each of them.
“This is a remarkable story of heroic and selfless acts that has saved timeless pieces of art from being lost. ...I find it fitting to hold the ceremony today as we remember the sacrifices that were made 63 years ago today on D-Day. ...This is an amazing story that deserves to be told and I am glad to be one of the many voices praising the job well done by these men.”
(Congresswoman Kay Granger, June 6, 2007)