August 09, 2016
Our Work Continues!
On October 20, 2015, I announced to some 2,500 people attending my presentation at SMU’s Tate Lecture Series that the Monuments Men Foundation would “begin ceasing operations due to lack of funding.” This painful moment had heightened emotion coming just thirty-six hours before the Monuments Men and Women would receive the Congressional Gold Medal. Much to my surprise, a person of good will emerged from the audience and expressed a commitment to see the Foundation’s work continue. In the weeks that followed, this person, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a substantial gift to the Foundation that allowed us to continue our work well into 2016, albeit with a reduced staff, and with the objective of identifying a partner institution to help us fulfill the third and final part our mission. We are enormously grateful to this person for their act of vision and generosity.
We had intended to send this newsletter in the days that followed the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, however in light of my announcement we had already begun cutting back and putting various work on hold. I am delighted that we are now able to provide our thousands of supporters with this news, and other related activities of the Foundation and its team, even dated as it is. As you will read, the Foundation has made substantial progress on various fronts completing a number of existing projects. Our work continues.
When the Foundation came into being on June 6, 2007, it had three primary objectives: raise worldwide awareness of the Monuments Men and Women, honor them for their military service, and put their rich legacy to its highest and best use. My three books on the subject, and the George Clooney film, The Monuments Men, have accomplished the first objective. The Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest honor, certainly satisfies the second objective.
It is the third objective---putting their legacy to its highest and best use---that now consumes our time. We continue to receive tips about missing cultural objects on our 1-866-WWII-ART toll-free tip line. The Foundation has a number of such items in its office in various stages of research, just some of the hundreds of thousands still missing objects from World War II. Our years-long effort to assemble biographies on all the Monuments Men and Women will be completed by the end of September with the posting of all 350 or so Monuments Men and Women biographies on the Foundation website. We are also increasing our interaction with today’s military leaders to ensure that they have all the information about their predecessors and their work to complete their mission. (To learn more about the work of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, please see page 7). But our focus remains concentrated on identifying the right partner institution to broaden the teaching component of our mission and serve as a permanent home to those assets that will not be a part of the National World War II Museum permanent exhibition on the Monuments Men, and other related exhibitions in various stages of planning.
The Foundation depends on the support of the public to complete this important work. If you have an interest in becoming a lead donor to the Foundation or serving as a Trustee, please contact me at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
Robert M. Edsel