A group of 91 veterans from Mississippi arrived in Washington DC to see firsthand the World War II Memorial commissioned in their honor on the National Mall. The memorial honors the Atlantic and Pacific Theatre heroes, the 16 million who served, and 400,000 that died. The memorial was dedicated on May 29, 2004.
As reported by USA Today, upon reaching their destination the veterans found the memorial barricaded. The group, wearing red shirts and “medal-bedecked caps” reacted with a few shrugs and lined up at the barricades. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., then moved the barricades aside and allowed the veterans into the memorial. As the veterans moved past signs that read “Because of federal government shutdown, all national parks and memorials are closed”, National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson stood by and observed. The veterans posed for pictures and walked or wheeled around their memorial while Patriotic songs were played by volunteer bagpiper Bill Greener with the D.C. Fire Department.
Ms. Johnson commented “This is so meaningful to the vets...[t]he main thing is we’d like to get back to work and welcome visitors again.” Enforcement of the park closures falls on the shoulders of the U.S. Park Police. While there is no good time for a government shutdown, this October is an especially bad time for the National Mall to be closed. The Honor Flight Network has arranged Honor Flights for World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans that will arrive every day in Washington. The trips afford the veterans an opportunity to see the monuments dedicated to their service in the Armed Forces of the United States and are funded by donations and volunteers . Otherwise, many vets would never have this opportunity.
Included in the shutdown debacle is a group of Texas Veterans who are part of the Honor Flight Network. Of the five flights from Texas, one is a group of veterans from Dallas-Fort Worth area, ages 84 to 96 years of age. All 41 veterans fought in World War II.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), after hearing the Texas Vets were told yesterday that they would not be able to view the memorial, has called for Congress and the Obama administration to pass a bill allowing the memorials and monuments to remain open during the government shutdown.
An Examiner article yesterday printed Senator Cornyn’s statement from his website: “This week, a group of our nation’s finest, World War II veterans who risked everything so that we might have a better life, will be making their way to Washington for the trip of a lifetime—an all-expenses-paid ‘Honor Flight’ to see their war memorials for the first time. But in an unacceptable turn of events, they've been told by the National Park Service that these memorials will be barricaded due to the federal government shutdown. “Never should men of this caliber receive this kind of treatment in our nation’s capital. “As this group of heroes makes their way to Washington, I call on President Obama and Congress to pass an appropriations bill opening these memorials and monuments. The Greatest Generation deserves our respect and hospitality.”
Today, many heroes were permitted to view the World War II Memorial. As some of them indicated, our government should never shut down.
God Bless our Veterans, Senator Cornyn, the politicians helping the veterans yesterday and today, the Honor Flight Network, and most of all God Bless America..