US troops in Iraq to be inspired to protect historic sites

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The "Monuments Men" of World War II dashed around Europe saving humankind's historical and artistic heritage from destruction. They were American soldiers tasked with a mission that didn't benefit the U.S. in any direct way, yet they performed it unsparingly and with unprecedented honesty. This June, Congress officially honored their memory, and more recently PBS ran a documentary, "The Rape of Europa," telling their story. In the era of chaos in Iraq, it has been all too easy for the world to airbrush out of mind the longstanding record of American custodial service to other people's cultures. A salutary reminder of that tradition is being unveiled in a more modest way this week with a pack of playing cards featuring the monuments and antiquities of Iraq and Afghanistan, with exhortations to military personnel to safeguard them. The packs will be distributed to U.S. troops in the region throughout the autumn.

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