Potential Award For The Monuments Men of WWII

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 02/21 2014 07:04PM

Updated 02/21 2014 07:17PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Congressional Gold Medal could soon be awarded to the Monuments Men of World War II. The group of 350 men and women was tasked with helping preserve, protect and restore cultural artifacts stolen by the Nazis in Europe during the war.

The story of the brave men and women has come to life in many books and films, like most recently, "The Monuments Men," which features an all-star cast, including Missouri native, John Goodman.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) is sponsoring a bill to honor the Monuments Men with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award a person can receive. Four of the Monuments Men were Missouri natives, and 10 others were later employed in the state.

"The lesson is not just to recognize what they did," said Sen. Blunt. "But to recognize obligation we have ongoing to try to do everything we can to protect who we are."

By 1951, more than five million pieces of art and sculptures were returned to their rightful owners, and more have been found in the recent years.

"Artists, and art historians, and museum directors are not the most likely heroes of war stories, but in this case they were," said Blunt.

It's the culmination effort to preserve art that allows future generations locally, nationally, and globally, to learn about history and culture.

Fannie and L.A.D. Crenshaw were early settlers of Greene County. After 100 years of separation, their portraits were finally reunited by the Springfield Art Museum.

Director of the Springfield Art Museum Nick Nelson said the recognition of the Monuments Men will have a lasting effort on the art community.

"It's so connected to what museums do on a fundamental level, which is to preserve our cultural heritage."

Senator Blunt said it's likely the bill will pass with enough co-sponsors, and the timing of the movie has helped with that.

**NOTE: Clips from "The Monuments Men" are from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CreneTs7sGs**

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