Your government not at work: WWII veterans forced to bust through barriers to see memorial
This whole thing is just a microcosm of how screwed up priorities and critical reasoning are in Washington.
I'll start with a piece from the great Leo Shane of Stars and Stripes, who really is one of the best out there at doing military stories:
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.
Next week a group of Ohio veterans are making the same trip, and per the park police, if they do what these vets from Mississippi and Iowa did, they will be arrested:
My favorite bloggger, Ace of Spades (whose salty language is probably not safe for work in some areas) lays bare just how big a farce it is to close down the WWII memorial:
Before we go any further, let us note once again how contrived it is to shut down entryways to a wide open space out in the middle of a park.
This is not a building, like a museum, that has doors and staffers and guides. This is [expletive] scenery.
And yet the erected artificial barriers to block people from walking through outdoor scenery.
Voila! Now we can pretend a memorial standing unsupervised out in the open is a "National Park" or "Open Air Museum" and close it to pedestrian traffic (and people can in fact just walk through this thing in their normal transversing of the city)....
When they were informed that the Honor Flight was on the way, and that they should make one exception for the veterans of WWII and open up the artificial barriers they had erected to make a political point, they refused.
There are no "schedule hours" for scenery.The monument does not close on weekends, or at night.
Because it's scenery.
It is a feature of the landscape.
And yet these See You Next Tuesdays attempted to create a fake "entryway" into a landscape feature so they could block it off and say "the Building is closed."
And then they doubled down.
If you've ever visited the WWII memorial you know just how absurd this is. It is as Ace says, it's scenery. It's wide open. There are no gates, you need no tickets to walk through, and even park police don't monitor it 24 hours a day. What possible damage can come from octogenarians visiting a memorial that they sacrificed for.
It's one thing for government to come to a screeching halt because alleged grownups can't agree on something, but its far more ridiculous when they try to use others as pawns to make petty political points. Let our veterans see their memorial.
The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
Palazzo helped the veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service Tuesday, when the heroes stormed through barricades around the closed memorial.
“We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” Palazzo told TheDC. “We were denied and told, ‘It’s a shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.”
Palazzo’s office was in touch with the heads of the Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Capitol Police. He says all these officials rejected his request to allow the veterans, many of whom are octogenarians and some of whom are in poor health, to attend.
Meanwhile Jake Tapper is reporting that the reason they shut it down was because of lack of folks who know CPR:
“Park Service did not want to barricade these, but unfortunately we have been directed, because of the lack of appropriations, to close all facilities and grounds,” said National Mall and Memorial parks spokeswoman Carol Johnson.
“I know that this is an open-air memorial, but we have people on staff who are CPR trained, (and) we want to make sure that we have maintenance crew to take care of any problems. What we’re trying to do is protect this resource for future generations,” said Johnson.
Brief Update: From the Wall Street Journal:
Volunteers were ready to move the barricades. “We were prepared to do it,” said Alice Canerday, a volunteer for the Honor Flight Network. She called the park service “kind” and “supportive.”
“We were comin’, open or not,” said Jennifer Monserud, committee member for the Story County, Iowa, freedom flight. Ms. Monserud said it was more important for the veterans to see the memorials than cancel their trip.
“They’ll get us where they can get us,” said Charles Packard, 83, a veteran from the Korean War on the flight from Iowa, of the veteran’s trip to D.C. in the midst of a government shutdown.
What's interesting is that Ms. Monserud is actually the daughter of Past National Commander Dave Rehbein. She and her mom, Ann were accompanying the Iowa vets out there. She says she knows the name of the guy who moved the barriers, but I'm not going to write about it for now if only to keep him out of trouble.
UPDATE: Victory is ours. Although for the life of me I can't figure out the logic they are using on this one.
World War II vets are allowed back in their war memorial now, shutdown or no shutdown.
A day after hundreds of tourist veterans took over the closed down World War II Memorial in the heart of the Nation’s Capital, the United States Park Police announced that planned Honor Flight visits to the monument are considered “First Amendment activities,” which are allowed regardless of the government’s operating status.
The news came at the same times as several hundred veterans from Missouri and Kansas roamed the memorial, in defiance of federal orders that the site was not open to the public. It ended some — but not all — of the circus atmosphere at the somber monument, which pays tribute to the 16 million troops who served in that war.