The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Community News Network

October 1, 2013

Veterans visit closed WWII memorial

WASHINGTON — The veterans piled off the chartered buses in front of the World War II Memorial, some in wheelchairs, some using canes, all determined to pay homage to each other and their fallen comrades from more than half a century ago.

Metal barricades and signs about a closure due to the shutdown of the federal government awaited them.

 The graying and stooped men, wearing blue baseball caps, red T-shirts and garlands of red, white and blue flowers, surged forward, accompanied by members of Congress - the same lawmakers who, hours earlier, had triggered a government shutdown by failing to pass a budget resolution.

A shout went up. The barricades had been moved - it was unclear by whom.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he believed the Park Service opened the gates. Rep Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said the congressmen did it. Rep. Steven M. Palazzo, R-Miss., said the barricades just seemed to part.

"I'm not going to enforce the 'no stopping or standing' sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans," said a U.S. Park Police officer, who declined to give his name. "I'm a veteran myself."

The veterans, from Mississippi, were visiting the memorial on the National Mall of as part of an honor flight program. They had chartered an $80,000 airplane, and their plans were too far advanced to postpone when the government shut down, said Wayne Lennep, spokesman for the Mississippi Gulf Coast honor flights.

The group arrived at Reagan National Airport at 10 a.m., on a chartered flight from Gulfport, Miss. By 11 a.m., they were on the Mall, where the many memorials and monuments were supposed to be closed.

"It's the best civil disobedience we've seen in Washington for a long time," Huizenga told the veterans.

 And they were not the only old soldiers determined to claim their small piece of the nation's capital, even on a day when the federal government seemed to have let them - and the rest of the country - down.

At the Korean War Memorial, a group of veterans from Puerto Rico also moved barricades aside in order to lay a wreath. The veterans represented members of the 65th Army regiment, which fought in Korea.

Anthony Mele, president of the regiment's honor task force, said a Park Police officer admonished the group that the site was closed, and then "literally turned his face and walked away" as the men moved the barriers in order to enter.

"We went on the other side of the barriers like good soldiers should, and we laid our wreath there," Mele said with a smile. "We were told that all permits were rescinded. I thought they said all permits were canceled except ours."

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
E-edition
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Must Read