"The Monuments Men" author speaks to Citadel crowd on military link to art

"The Monuments Men" author speaks to Citadel crowd on military link to art
Published: Apr. 4, 2014 at 3:41 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2014 at 3:49 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - To help launch the Citadel's new fine arts minor, the college welcomed the author whose book spawned the recent movie "The Monuments Men."

Robert Edsel spoke to a crowd of about 1,500 people at the McAlister Field House on Thursday evening.

His talk focused on the important link between the military and culture, which was displayed in his book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

"General Eisenhower said in 1946 that it may seem strange that a soldier schooled in the art of destruction is here to talk about beautiful things and their preservation, but it is an important part of the military's task going forward," he said.

According to Monuments Men Foundation, the group was comprised of about 345 men and women from 13 nations who worked to protect cultural treasures during World War II.

The director of the Citadel's fine arts program says Edsel's speech celebrated the link between the military and the arts.

"This actually a rich history of this connection and that's what we're searching to do with the fine arts program at the Citadel," Tiffany Silverman said.

Since its inception in the fall, the fine arts minor has become one of the college's most popular minors, offering classes in photography, painting, and the visual arts.

One of the stars of the movie, actor Bill Murray, spoke to the crowd before Edsel took the stage.

"He's an incredibly smart fellow," Edsel said. "He reads incessantly. He's a great student of people and he's a fun guy to be around."

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