Of the roughly 350 men and women who preserved and protected art during World War II, 14 of them had ties to Missouri. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., toured the St. Louis Art Museum Wednesday to take a look at some of the pieces the so-called "monuments men" fought for.
The Republican has sponsored a bill to award the "monuments men" with the Congressional Gold Medal.
They're credited with protecting millions of cultural artifacts from the Nazis, and Blunt took a look at a couple of them during his tour.
"I looked at a number of pieces,” Blunt said. “But I particularly wanted to see the two pieces that were part of this story -- the portrait of a gentleman and the portrait of a lady that are the 1540 pieces from Hans Mielich."
If passed, his legislation would allow the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the "monuments men" collectively to be housed by the Smithsonian. Blunt said the story of the "monuments men" has contemporary relevance.
"After the Mubarak overthrow in Egypt, people got into the Cairo museum and things got stolen that nobody knows where they are now,” Blunt said. “Iraq, I believe, could have been handled better in terms of the archeological sites and the artifacts of that great culture."
Blunt says only five members of the "monuments men" are still alive.
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