CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, May 19, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3658, the Monuments Men Recognition Act of 2013, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 3658 was introduced on December 5, 2013 by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. The bill has 297 cosponsors.
H.R. 3658 authorizes the striking and award of a single gold medal in recognition of the men and women who identified, preserved, catalogued, and repatriated nearly five million artistic and cultural items threatened by theft and destruction during World War II. The bill would additionally authorize the creation of bronze Congressional Gold Medal duplicates at a price intended to recoup the costs of designing and striking the gold medal.
On June 23, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, more commonly known as the Roberts Commission (named after its Chairman, Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts). Established to identify and promote the protection of monuments, churches, and items of cultural value throughout Europe, the Roberts Commission contributed to the creation of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA), known as the “Monuments Men.” Comprised of approximately 345 men and women from 13 countries (many of whom had expertise as museum directors, curators, and art historians), the Monuments Men were originally responsible for preserving churches, cathedrals, and monuments from the destruction of World War II.
After the allies began discovering repositories of artwork stolen by Hitler and the Nazis, the Monuments Men became responsible for returning artwork and items of cultural significance to their rightful owners. Operating sometimes just behind combat forces, these men and women often put themselves in danger (two were killed in action during the war). The Monuments Men operated for six years after the war, returning over 5 million cultural items and rebuilding cultural life in the devastated countries of Europe. There are currently only five surviving members of the Monuments Men.
The total cost of issuing a Congressional Gold Medal and its duplicates is $35,000. However, the Gold Medal is paid for by the sale of duplicate bronze medals, which will fully offset the cost of creating the medals. Implementing H.R. 3658 will have no significant impact on the federal budget.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.