Occupied Europe was closed too! Veterans ‘storm’ barricades around shuttered World War II Memorial in defiance of shutdown
The newly imposed government shutdown proved no match for a group of defiant veterans who were determined to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington DC yesterday.
Hundreds of veterans arrived for a previously scheduled visit to the memorial Tuesday morning to find it barricaded by the National Park Service after the shutdown went into effect at midnight.
But the group of 91 Vets who had traveled from Mississippi were not to be deterred and ‘stormed’ into the memorial.
Members of Congress, including Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and Steven Palazzo, of Mississippi, rushed to the site after receiving panicked emails and cut police tape to let in the veterans.
Beyond boundaries: Veterans from Iowa were able to tour the World War Two Memorial in Washington after removing the fences closing the site due to the U.S. government shutdown
Defiant: Veterans on an Honor Flight tour visit the World War II Memorial in Washington DC even the the site was officially closed because of the government shutdown
Gulf Coast Coast Honor Flight veteran Wynon Stewart, left, and his escort, Cat Aguda display a piece of police tape removed from the WWII Memorial
‘I find it disappointing and disgusting for our country to have to go through this,’ said Bob Hunter, 90, of Gulfport, Mississippi to theDaily News.
Mr Hunter survived a plane crash and climbed the Eiffel Tower to post a radio transmitter on top as a member of the Army Signal Corps in World War II.
‘I feel like we deserve better,’ Hunter said. ‘Somewhere, somehow, somebody screwed up.’
Tom Lucas, of Pontotoc, Mississippi was one of five brothers who fought in World War II, said the memorial’s closure ‘hurt us.’
‘I crossed the North Atlantic 20 times on convoy duty,’ said Mr Lucas, 87, to the Daily News. ‘I ended up in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the surrender.’
‘We did our share, and the last thing people should do is not let us in and not let people open the gate.’
‘We took on the Germans and the Japs and we whipped them, and then we have to take this sort of thing? It makes you wonder if these people work for the U.S government or for themselves.’
Greatest generation: Rep. Steve King, of Iowa (bottom center), helped distract Park Service officers to allow veterans to enter the memorial
Call of duty: Rep. King is pictured with one of the veterans who traveled from Iowa to pay respects to their fallen comrades
Meet and greet: U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (left) said she and her colleagues plan to continue coming down to the memorial every day to ensure veterans’ access to the site
Tour: A group of 91 veterans from Mississippi were flown down to DC by a charity group to visit the memorial
MIchalle Bachmann said it was ‘pure joy’ when members of the greatest generation were allowed in because they had traveled so far to honor their fallen comrades.
She added that her fellow congressmen and women plan to continue coming down to the memorial every day while the shutdown continues to ensure veterans’ access.
‘America is not shutting down,’ she told CNN. ‘If we have anything to say about it, we’re going to keep this open.’
Park spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the service didn’t want to keep veterans out, but the agency was directed to close all memorials after the Congress failed to approve a budget resolution, leading to the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Tough guys: Many of the veterans at the site were wheelchair-bound or relying on walking canes to get around
On the fence: U.S. Park Police close off the World War II Memorial in Washington after the first government shutdown in 17 years went into effect
A long-running dispute between Democrats and Republicans over President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act stalled a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspending most non-essential federal programs and services.
‘We’re looking about how to deal with this in the future,’ Johnson said.
Leo Shane III, a reporter for the newspaper Stars and Stripes who was present at the memorial, tweeted that he witnessed Rep Steve King, of Iowa, distracting a Park Service officer while veterans knocked down the barricades.
Members of The Mississippi Gulf Honor Flight – a nonprofit group that arranges free visits to the WWII Memorial for veterans – made their way to the capital visit the memorial.
Wayne Lennep, a spokesman for the organization, said they had planned the visit long before the shutdown and could not cancel the pilgrimage to the memorial.
Keeping history locked up: One of the clearest examples of the effect of the shutdown comes from the closure of all National Parks
Close as you can get: A last minute effort by Republicans to reopen the National Parks failed on Tuesday evening, thought it was viewed by many as a stopgap to lessen the backlash against the GOP
Nationwide: A cyclist had to cut his ride short on Tuesday in Saguaro National Park in Tuscon, Arizona
The 91 veterans, many of them wheelchair-bound or using walking canes to get around, arrived at Reagan National Airport in an $80,000 chartered plane Tuesday morning.
They boarded buses and arrived at the memorial at around 11.30am, only to discover metal fences around the site and printed signs announcing that the memorial has been closed due to the government shutdown.
Even though park police officers were patrolling the area, they made no attempts to stop the veterans and congressmen who came to their aid from moving the barriers and entering the site.
‘I thought I was going to have to stand back when we first got here,’ veteran Robert Meredith toldThe Epoch Times. ‘I feel extremely lucky. This is really nice, a great honor.’
Fighting back: Protestors demonstrated by the Capitol demanding the House pass a Continuing Resolution without any amendments that attempted to defund the Affordable Care Act
Defending themselves: Republicans, lead by Senator David Vitter at the podium, called for Democrats to compromise and allow them to pass a version of a budget to end the shutdown
Sticking on message: Democratic House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi pushed for Americans to enroll in the national healthcare system that was launched today
The gray-haired and stooped visitors were able to lay a wreath at the Mississippi pillar and take pictures before leaving the site less than an hour later.
Besides the travelers from Mississippi, a group of veterans from Iowa dressed in bright yellow shirts were also allowed to access the memorial.
At the Korean War Memorial, a group of veterans from Puerto Rico also stormed the barricades to lay a wreath, The Washington Postreported.
Major hurdles: Park rangers erect barricades as a visitor is turned away from a section of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia
March: Furloughed federal employes march in front of a shuttered Independence Hall at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia
Blockade: A barrier blocks the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington as national parks were closed due the budget battle
Rep. Bill Huizenga, of Michigan, called the veterans’ bold actions ‘the best civil disobedience we’ve seen in Washington in a while,’ according toThe Gulf Live.
The veterans’ decision to ignore the shutdown and move fences aside in order to pay their respects to military heroes has drawn bipartisan support from members of the House and Senate alike.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, posted on Twitter that he would be donating his pay during the shutdown to the Honor Flight organization in his home state, while Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, simply tweeted, ‘Good for them.’