Government shuts down war memorials, veterans fight back

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Government shuts down war memorials, veterans fight back
Veterans from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight defied the barricades and the government shutdown to visit the World War II Memorial on Tuesday morning, Oct. 1, 2013 in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama declared the government had officially run out of money when the fiscal year expired at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. (Tim Isbell/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT)

By Brett Gillin

If there’s a group of people you simply don’t want to mess with, it’s the men and women who have served our country. Case in point: When the government shutdown forced many of our memorials to close their doors to the public, a group of veterans did not take it lying down. Instead, they decided to storm the gates and protest in the best way they know how.

As pointed out in this story in the Washington Post, a group of elderly veterans, many of whom had fought in World War II, took charter buses to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Even though the memorial was closed off by metal gates and signs stating that “Because of the Federal Government SHUDOWN, ALL National Parks are CLOSED” the veterans were determined to pay homage to their fallen brothers-in-arms. It doesn’t take a big leap to imagine that not a one of them foresaw the virtues of fighting for a government who can’t stop squabbling long enough to keep their memorials open.

Moments after they arrived at the closed off memorial, someone opened the gates. According to the story in the Washington Post, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) stated that Park Services must have opened the gates while Rep. Bill Huizenga pointed to Roger Wicker himself as the person who opened said gates. Either way, the same Congressmen who’d recently voted to “shut down” the federal government, were now opining on who reopened a piece of it for these veterans.

According to a U.S. Park Police officer who decline to go on record, “I’m not going to enforce the ‘no stopping or standing’ sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans. I’m a veteran myself.” It’s a perfect example of someone doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right people, despite what politicians might want.

This latest example of large-scale civil disobedience was piloted by a group of veterans who had chartered a plane from Mississippi months ago in order to take part in an honor flight program. When the federal government shut their doors, the plans were too far along to cancel, so the group decided to go ahead with their original prerogative. Social media has been abuzz with pictures and messages of support for this group of veterans. Even Representative Bill Huizenga (R-Mich) chimed in to proclaim “It’s the best civil disobedience we’ve seen in Washington for a long time.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

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