Robert Edsel's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’


March 26th, 2010 | 9:32 am

In the short while I have served the National World War ll Museum board as a trustee, I have come to know many of the very fine people that run this great organization and museum.  To the person they are incredibly enthusiastic about the mission of the museum and the opportunity they have to further the telling of the heroism of Americans who fought to preserve the liberties we enjoy today.  I have met some of the other trustees who have worked for years donating time and financial resources to making the museum a reality, truly one of the great visitor experiences anywhere.  This was reinforced for all of us at the Monuments Men Foundation this past weekend during our company visit to New Orleans where I was a keynote speaker about the Monuments Men at the International World War II Conference.

One of the more prominent members of the board is Super Bowl winning quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.  Drew’s grandfather stormed onto the beaches of the South Pacific during World War II as a young marine.   He knows firsthand the importance of honoring these remarkable veterans and sharing the story of their sacrifices with people today.  In fact, Drew has participated in several USO tours to visit our troops overseas.  It speaks well of this young man that his life and conduct off the competitive field is defined by helping others and serving his community.

People such as Drew make the National World War II Museum the special place it has become.  The Monuments Men Foundation is so very excited about our ongoing relationship with the Museum and the day when the legacy of the Monuments Men and their story will be a part of the permanent exhibitions on display.

To view Drew Bree’s speaking about the National World War II Museum and the importance of its mission, please click on the link.

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March 16th, 2010 | 11:03 am


The International Conference on World War II will be held from March 18th – 20th in New Orleans, Louisiana, sponsored by the National World War II Museum. This 3-day event will consist of keynote addresses, lectures, conferences, and roundtable discussions.

Robert Edsel is giving the keynote address on Friday, March 19 from 8:30am – 10:00, after which he will be discussing Art & War at 10:30, with Marc Pachter and Rick Atkinson. Some of the other topics that will be discussed during the conference are Allies at War, Death from Above, Espionage, Normandy, and War Crime Trials. There will also be an opportunity to meet Robert and the other speakers at a roundtable reception on Friday evening. Included with conference passes is the chance to view the museum’s exhibits as well as Beyond All Boundaries – the museum’s newest multi-experiential film at the Solomon Victory Theater. This film is truly a not to be missed visual experience.


If you are interested in attending this conference, please go to to register on-line, or call 1-877-813-3329 x 500 or 504-527-6012 x 500. We look forward to seeing you there this week.

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March 9th, 2010 | 12:21 pm


It’s hard to believe that this is our 20th newsletter! So much has happened in the last 3 years. I hope you enjoy our latest publication – just click to download the PDF version.

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November 11th, 2009 | 10:12 am


Entry of the Color Guard at the National World War II Museum

More than 1,150,000 Americans have died in the wars our nation has waged to gain – and maintain – its freedom and independence. Through World War II the greatness of our nation was founded in the concept of shared sacrifice, the belief that those in uniform — and the families they left behind — shouldn’t shoulder the burden of defending our way of life alone.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt wisely observed that “…in the long run, success or failure [of the Republic] will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary everyday affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues.  The average citizen must be a good citizen if our Republics are to succeed.”

Our veterans, and those men and women in uniform, continue to do their part, even when harm’s way appears on our own military bases at home.  But at a time in our Republic’s history when Veterans Day has sadly become notable more for its holiday shopping promotions and as a day off from school or work, one wonders what has become of the Good Citizen of whom Roosevelt spoke?


Tom Brokaw giving a speech at the National World War II Museum

Last Friday, while in New Orleans for the dedication ceremony of the National World War II Museum’s new expansion space, including its one of a kind 4-D theater and film, Beyond all Boundaries, I witnessed the work of many Good Citizens, but two in particular worth highlighting:  Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw.  Their official roles were as hosts of the various events, none more moving than the Parade of Veterans, 350 men and women who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Army Air Force and Coast Guard during World War II.  Tom Brokaw told the audience that writing The Greatest Generation was “the single most important professional experience of my life.”  Tom Hanks spoke lovingly of his father, a Navy veteran, and the importance of each person doing their part as a prerequisite to achieving the long sought victory, even if their role was that of a machinist.

But behind the scenes, when the cameras weren’t rolling, the “Toms” were everywhere:  arriving early and staying late, serving food to the veterans, attending cocktail parties and dinners for supporters of the museum, and meeting with museum officials to discuss additional ways they could help to preserve the legacy of the men and women who saved our world from the greatest threat it has ever known.  As Dr. Nick Mueller, President of the museum, often stated, every time he and his friend of 30 years, the late Dr. Stephen Ambrose, called the “Toms” for help, they both enthusiastically appeared.


Tom Hanks talking with veterans

Personally I was struck less by what Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw did than I was the spirit in which they did it:  gracious, humble, honored to be of help.  They were the Good Citizens, in this case extraordinary men applying their resources — none more powerful than their time —in a way that served as an inspiring example for others.  These are the same traits I’ve witnessed in my interviews with the citizen-soldiers known as the Monuments Men, a small group of men and women who saved and preserved the greatest cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II and theft by Hitler and the Nazis: graciousness, humility, inspiration.

So on this Veterans Day, I think NOT of the commercialism of the holiday or the de-coupling of the bond of shared sacrifice that built our great nation, rather I take hope in the example set by Tom Hanks, Tom Brokaw, and many other Good Citizens in New Orleans this past weekend. I give thanks to our veterans, and all those in military service, including their loved ones, who keep us safe.



November 6th, 2009 | 11:02 am


I’m in New Orleans today on behalf of the Monuments Men and the Monuments Men Foundation at the dedication ceremony of the new expansion space of the National World War ll Museum.  Hosts Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks are among thousands of others here honoring the sacrifice of so many millions of Americans who experienced—and won—the greatest war in history.  As many of the speakers have commented, we can never thank them enough.  As the son of a World War ll veteran of the Pacific, an 18 year old marine at the time, I know firsthand the truth of this sentiment.


Last evening I attended a black tie dinner at which Tom Brokaw made moving remarks about how important this Museum has become in his life.  He said that writing his book, The Greatest Generation, was the most meaningful and important achievement of his professional career. Don’t I know…I feel the same about my role in working with the Monuments Men. It is an honor, a privilege.


Today we witnessed many beautiful scenes such as the entry of the color guard, and even more moving, the entry parade of the World War ll veterans, grouped by service–first the Army, then Marines, Navy, Army Air Corp, and Coast Guard.  16 members of the Tuskegee Air Corps are present.  Medal recipients abound.  It is so humbling to be in the presence of all these great heroes.

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September 23rd, 2009 | 5:15 pm


It was one of the highlights of my recent years speaking to this great group of people and in the magnificent space of our nation’s World War ll Museum this past Saturday evening.  They expected 200 people would attend: by the time I walked to the podium there were 400 people present.  As testament to the “untold” aspect of these heroes’ story, the Museum, for it enormous breadth and depth of collection, has nothing about these remarkable men and women who distinguished themselves and our nation in the protection of the world’s great cultural treasures during war.


Dr. Nick Mueller, President of the National World War II Museum provided me a wonderful tour of the museum's new expansion space which will be dedicated on November 5-7, 2009.

Dr. Nick Mueller, President of the Museum and lifelong friend of the late Dr. Stephen Ambrose, whose vision Dr. Mueller and his fine team has shaped and developed, introduced me with very kind remarks about the exciting story of these heroes and the importance of their achievements.  I was deeply humbled to be among so many veterans and to have my mom and aunt present, both of whom were married to veterans.  In fact, my father, Ray, was a combat veteran of the Pacific having served as a young marine in Saipan and Nagasaki, bayonet fixed.


This American aircraft is just one of many incredible items on display for visitors to the Museum.

There is a lot more to tell about this amazing experience and I will do so in the days ahead leading up to the broadcast of this event on C-SPAN within the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned!



September 22nd, 2009 | 5:12 pm


It was an honor to speak at our Nation’s World War II Museum in New Orleans this past Saturday evening.  There were more than 400 people in attendance, twice the size audience that was expected.  This has happened repeatedly in my travels lecturing:  audiences everywhere are interested in the story of how a handful of 40 year old men managed to save so much of the art we all enjoy today.  Dr. Nick Mueller, President of the Museum and lifelong friend of the late Dr. Stephen Ambrose, whose vision it was to build this magnificent museum, shared with the audience his determination to in time incorporate the telling of this story about the Monuments Men into the Museum’s comprehensive presentation of the story of World War II.   There could be no greater evidence of how “untold” the story of the Monuments Men is than the fact that there is NOTHING about it in the Museum’s detailed and in depth coverage of the war.  Dr. Mueller has been quick to see the power of this story and what an important part it is to the telling of the war experience, especially in the years that followed the end of the war as the Monuments Men remained in Europe for more than 6 years finishing the job they started.

This presentation was taped by C-SPAN and will be aired nationally in the coming days.  Stay tuned for broadcast details and photos from the event!

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September 18th, 2009 | 4:58 pm


Tomorrow night I’m honored to speak at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans at 7:30pm, September 19th. There will be hundreds of veterans in attendance – my favorite audience! If you are in the area please join us. Admission is free.

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