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McClatchy

Rob Hotakainen

Stationed in Germany after World War II, James Reeds was the chief clerk for a little office with a big mission: rescuing art that the Nazis had looted.

On Wednesday, the 85-year-old Kansas City man squinted into the bright television lights on Capitol Hill, clutching an American flag with both hands. His hair and beard were white. He walked with a cane and spoke slowly.

"I think we did a good thing in that war," Reeds said. "We conquered the Nazis and their friends, and we did very good things to protect people from the sins of the Nazis. ... I'm glad to be an American."

On the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, Congress paused to honor Reeds and three other members of the so-called "Monuments Men." They were a small band of art experts that tracked down tens of thousands of pieces of stolen art and cultural artifacts by masters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso and da Vinci.

"This is long overdue," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican who presented flags to the four men: Reeds, Horace Apgar of Oklahoma City, Harry Ettlinger of Rockaway, N.J., and Bernard Taper of Berkeley, Calif.

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