Cultural Casualties of War

Caption: The National Museum of Iraq

A Russian artist named Nicholas Roerich once wrote, "In Beauty, we are united, through Beauty we pray, with Beauty we conquer." He understood the power of culture. He wrote an international treaty to protect artistic and cultural treasures during war. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Roerich's treaty in 1935. It is too bad that his idea has not been fully appreciated in the twenty-first century. One example of lost culture was the destruction and theft of relics during the Iraq War.

In April 2003, a "cultural casualty" happened in Baghdad. Looters raided the National Museum of Iraq. The raid lasted for three days. Military forces in Iraq didn't protect the museum. Museum staff did what they could to protect their treasures and had the foresight to move some objects before the raids. They hid many valuable artifacts in the basement. Other valuable items went into bank vaults.

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