Skip to comments.WWII veterans storm D.C. memorial closed by government shutdown
Posted on 10/01/2013 2:45:16 PM PDT by dennisw
WASHINGTON Wheelchair-bound elderly veterans pushed aside barricades to tour the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning, in defiance of the government shutdown which closed all of the memorials in the nations capital.
The four bus loads of veterans visiting from Mississippi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight tour ignored National Park Police instructions not to enter the site as lawmakers and tourists cheered them on.
We didnt come this far not to get in, one veteran proclaimed.
The scene was both emotional and comical at once. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside, telling press that they had asked for guidance on how to respond to the breach of security.
As 80-something veterans slowly walked around the massive war memorial, Park Police stood quietly to the side, advising other tourists that the site was technically still closed. But they made no moves to stop the wishes of the war heroes.
The memorial was closed because of the government shutdown which started 11 hours earlier, after lawmakers failed to pass a temporary budget plan to keep nonessential federal programs operating. Republicans and Democrats have been stalled in budget fight for weeks, mostly over legislative add-ons dealing with the new healthcare law.
As a result, more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed Tuesday, set to return only after Congress reaches a compromise. National parks and federal buildings were closed down. And the WWII Memorial along with the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and much of the rest of the Capitol were barricaded, to keep tourists away.
Several Republican lawmakers were on hand to greet the Mississippi Honor Flight veterans at the memorial on Tuesday, and nodded thoughtfully as the greatest generation representatives voiced their displeasure at being turned away from their own memorial.
Organizers said the trip took months of planning and nearly $100,000 in donations for airfare, food and buses. A dozen more are scheduled in the next week.
Its great to be here, but its really disappointing that we cant get closer to see it, said Gene Tolley, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Pacific during the war. I came through the city back in high school, but I was looking forward to coming back and seeing this.
He got his wish.
As Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, distracted a Park Police representative, other lawmakers and their staff helped topple the metal fences. A bagpiper on hand for the event led the men past the crowd and into the heart of the memorial, attracting a large, applauding crowd.
This just means so much to me, said Alex Lou Pitalo, an Army vet who also served in the Pacific during WWII. I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping Im just so happy. This was amazing.
Officials from the Honor Flight network, which organized the tour, said they have advised upcoming trip planners that the memorials will not be open to the public, and to plan accordingly.
Meanwhile, at press time, Park Police said they were still reviewing how to handle similar problems in the future, since they still have no indication when the government shutdown will be resolved.
You know it is completely Mickey Mouse to “close” the memorial. Probably takes more manpower to “close” it than have it open
Has anybody heard if anything’s happening at The Wall?
I know that it currently is unfashionable on FR, but I’d like to give some kudos to the Park Police.
Where does the Imperious DC Gov’t get off keeping people out of an open air monument-memorial? You need Park Rangers there to supervise??? Fire 50% of Federal workers, half do nothing useful.
If the Park Police can be there to close it they can be there to keep it open.
This is nothing but pure unadulterated Harassment.
Nasty minded Bullsh*t designed to hurt tourists.
These Monuments do not require a staff, they are open to the world.
As long as liberals aren’t attending they do not need cleaning.
There were some great photos of this earlier. Absolutely the right thing to do.
And on another note, why is it cheaper to pay park police to close all these parks, instead of just keeping them open?
I guess that’s a rhetorical question. It’s kind of like Obama closing the White House to school tours, while keeping it open for weekly rap parties.
The objective of this vile bunch is to inflict maximum pain on the people for not giving into the demands of our Dear Leader, meanwhile keeping their cronies on the payroll and the Leader in golf and other vacays.
I agree with you. They were left to deal with it with no guidance and they honored the veterans by not interfering.
Iowans in Steve King’s district can be proud they have a man of character representing them.
Reminds me of a song. Where's Public Enemy when you need them?
THIS is how you do it...
you do not need park rangers, tour guides or any other petty beaurocrat to tour the nations memorials..
JUST DO IT..
make them arrest you..
They don’t have money to keep it open so they pay guards to be there.What changes when it is open?
Nearly 70 years after Normandy and Iwo Jima, these vets still know how to land in enemy territory and take the beachhead.
Fantastic. Maybe there’s a lesson we can learn.
Hey Obie-won.. what ya gonna do?