Small Wars Journal

Modern-Day 'Monuments Men': Smithsonian, U.S. Army Partner to Preserve Culture Amid War

Modern-Day 'Monuments Men': Smithsonian, U.S. Army Partner to Preserve Culture Amid War by Jenae Barnes – ABC News

The U.S. Army Reserve and the Smithsonian are partnering to establish a modern-day "Monuments Men" program, reviving a cultural preservation effort that has its roots in World War II.

The "Monuments Men" were 345 service members who worked from 1943 to 1951 to track down and recover 5 million pieces of art, books and other valuables -- most of which had been stolen by the Nazis during the war. Their work was featured in "The Monuments Men," a 2014 movie starring Matt Damon, Bill Murray and George Clooney.

"To safeguard these things will not affect the course of battles," George Stout wrote in a draft proposing the protection of monuments to the U.S. government in 1942. "To safeguard these things will show respect for the beliefs and customs of all men and will bear witness that these things belong not only to a particular people but also to the heritage of mankind."

In October, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) and U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg signed an agreement to train service members in cultural preservation. The partnership provides military support to respond to threats to cultural heritage seen in major conflict zones, as needed, including the Middle East and northern Syria

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