The very bizarre happenings at the World War II memorial conjure up memories of another barricade: the Berlin Wall.
Obviously the two situations are not at all synonymous save their peculiar and escalating existences.
Apparently the executive branch has say over National Park Service operations. That is to say that the executive decides what national parks do during the shutdown.
In this case, the executive opted to shut off access to—of particular interest here—a static World War II memorial. What was peculiar about the move was that the monument needs no staff to be open. It is simply a rock (or series of rocks, if you will) in the middle of a field. Still, in the middle of a shutdown, the executive saw fit to use additional labor, presumably for which there is no money, to barricade the memorial.
Day one had aluminum barricades lined up. The situation took a new twist on day two when the barricades were wired together to prevent visitors from moving them aside to gain access. Again, this required more labor than is required to ordinarily have the monument open for tourists. So the executive is using the occasion of the shutdown to stage a visible disruption that is a total farce, complete with the knowledge that Honor Flights were bringing many of the war’s veterans to the memorial; and many of these veterans are likely in their final hours in this life.
The escalation of the barricade is reminiscent of the total division of Berlin in post-World War II Germany.
The West oversaw, well, West Berlin while the Soviets administered the East, but movement between the sectors was basically uninhibited. That was well and good until young talent fled East Berlin in droves. In the summer of 1961, to stop the outflow, East Germany sealed off the border between the Soviet and Western sectors.
At first, the barrier took the form of busted streets, beefed up security forces, and a barb-wired fence. Eventually, it became a tall wall with concertina wire on top. Those brave enough to scale the wall—almost always moving from East to West—were often shot and killed. To the East Germans, the wall was at one point known as the “anti-fascist protective rampart.”
Ironically, today, the executive branch has sealed off a war memorial with simple barricades only later to fortify barrier. Adding to the irony, the executive is preventing soldiers who could have been accurately described in their day of service as “anti-fascist” troops from visiting their own memorial. On top of it all, closing the monument would save practically no money; in fact, sealing it off costs more than leaving it open, which is an odd course of action in the middle of the shutdown.
Whatever the executive’s motivations, what seems apparent is that the closure of the World War II memorial is a visible and symbolic gesture. If the aim was for public and noticeable pain resulting from the shutdown, then this was an odd choice given the victims.