World War II veterans visit memorial despite government shutdown

They stormed the beaches of Normandy and raised the American flag on Iwo Jima, so it’s not surprising that a group of World War II veterans were undeterred by the government shutdown when they arrived on the National Mall yesterday to visit the memorial dedicated to them:

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 nation’s 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 didn’t 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.

Leo Shane, III, who wrote the article excerpted above, took photos of the veterans visiting the memorial. You can view the photo gallery here. The Associated Press caught some video of veterans at the memorial:

The Honor Flight Network is an organization that pays tribute to America’s veterans by transporting them to Washington to visit memorials that have been created in their honor. Some House Republicans and a Democratic senator, according to CNN, blasted the closure of the World War II Memorial, which is an open space on across the Reflecting Pool from the Lincoln Memorial.

The House of Representatives passed a measure on Tuesday evening that would fund the National Park Service and reopen memorials and monuments that have been closed by the government shutdown. Senate Democrats and the White House oppose that measure, demanding that a “clean” Continuing Resolution be passed over individual spending bills.

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