One “side-effect” of the government shutdown is the closing of national monuments and parks. Despite the closing of monuments, parks, and even cemeteries, on both Wednesday and Tuesday mornings, groups of veterans pushed over barricades and toured the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday morning, family, friends and even members of Congress joined the veterans. Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) helped the elderly veterans pass through the temporary gates so they could access the memorial and honor the lost. “Maybe eight to twelve of us members…we just escorted the veterans in,” Bachmann stated.
Palazzo, who is a Gulf War veteran knew that these veterans had planned this trip a year in advance. “We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” Palazzo said. “We were denied and told: ‘It’s a government shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.” He believed the decision to close the memorial was “politically motivated”. “This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24/7 access to under normal circumstances — even when Park Service personnel aren’t present,” he stated. “It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their Memorial than it would to simply let them through.”
Rep. Palazzo published a letter to the president on Monday asking that the monument remain open to the public:
"It would be truly devastating to our veterans that travel great lengths to share this experience with family and friends and see a piece of their own history," he wrote. "I request that you immediately instruct the Department of Interior and National Service to ensure that veterans are not denied access to monuments on the National Mall in the case of a government shutdown. It is the very least we can do for our Greatest Generation who sacrificed so much on behalf of our country."
The WWII Memorial was closed again on Tuesday afternoon and is to remain “closed”, but that’s not stopping veterans from seeing the memorial. The memorial is an outdoor memorial, and more and more people are defying the shutdown to pay homage.
On Wednesday, a new wave of veterans was forced to move barricades at the WWII. The WWII veterans, from all over the country were not prevented from entering by Parks Police. They vowed to visit the memorial no matter what the government situation.
Ian Drake, a WWII veteran, was asked how he planned to visit the outdoor memorial when it was closed. Drake stated they will "find a way in, one way or another. We might have to climb or something. It's no problem. Well work it out when we get there. A lot of my old comrades were lost in World War II," Drake said. "Eighteen of 100 in my graduating class were lost in World War II, so it's important for me to show my respect at the memorial."
Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin warned that if anyone lays a hand on a WWII veteran at the memorial to arrest them for visiting their own memorial, he’ll bring a half a million people to march on Washington. “You lay one hand on one of those men and arrest them for going to their memorial, which they fought for, which was not paid by you dammit, it was paid by the American people – we will come out of every town and city in this nation! We will come out of every county. And both coasts! Both borders! And we will march on Washington against your tyranny!”
One family’s story is what many are facing right now in the face of the government shutdown. “We drove our kids from Gilbert, Arizona thousands of miles across the country, hoping to show them the national treasures,” one family member told RT. Another family member added, “Instead we’re learning about government.”
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