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The government shuts down so what happens? Bureaucrats erect barricades at national memorial sites that belong to the people – to keep the people out.
But that proved to be no barricade for determined defenders of the nation, as veterans on Tuesday "occupied" a "closed" World War II Memorial in Washington.
According to a report in the Atlantic Wire, dozens of Mississippi vets moved barricades aside so they would be able to visit the site that honors their own accomplishments, and their fallen fellow soldiers.
The veterans were visiting the memorial as part of Honor Flight, a non-profit group that provides veterans free transport to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials to the wars they fought in.
The report said they had an accessory, "Apparently Rep. Steve King helped distract a park police officer while the vets tore down the fences keeping them from their memorial visit."
Also, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., arrived at the scene after receiving panicked emails about the closure and cut the police tape to let veterans inside.
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.”
"It just goes to show you why we won World War II," said Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio President Lee Armstrong.
"The Germans and the Japanese couldn't contain us. They weren't going to let barriers contain them today. They wanted to see their memorial," Armstrong told WNWO-TV.
Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio has a trip scheduled to depart from Toledo next Wednesday, October 9.
"We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule."
When Armstrong called the parks service, he was told they would face arrest. "I said, are you kidding me? You're going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn't for them it wouldn't be there. She said, 'That's correct sir.'"
When Armstrong asked for her name, he says she promptly hung up the phone.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasted the federal government for trying to block World War II vets from visiting their memorial, saying “some idiot in government sent goons out there to set up barricades.”
“If Harry Reid and the President want to keep the parks closed — I mean did you read the story today? Some idiot in government sent goons out there to set up barricades, so they couldn’t see the monument. People had to spend hours setting up barricades where there are never barricades to prevent people from seeing the World War II monument because they’re trying to play a charade,” Rand said Tuesday on Fox News’s “Hannity.”
The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, reports The Daily Caller.
Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran who has participated in all five of the Honor Flights, blames the White House for making it harder on veterans and playing politics. “At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight,” Palazzo told The Daily Caller, “but having talked with the officials I can’t help but think this was politically motivated. Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials, are planned a year in advance and cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation’s veterans?”
On Twitter, the actions of the tour group of 91 whose members had traveled on an Honor Flight from Mississippi to visit were getting a lot of attention.
"Honor flight vets just knocked over the barriers at the WWII Memorial to get inside, #shutdown or no," wrote Leo Shane.
"Do NOT mess with WWII vets. … No sign of folks leaving. The vets have control of the memorial," added Sarah Winman.
"It's now a party down there, with Iowa veterans joining in on the fun. … Shane reports park police have completely given up trying to keep people out of the memorial," Atlantic Wire said.
Writer Connor Simpson explained, "These are your first, and probably only, bad a-- heroes of the government shutdown."
On a Twitter page for Bill Murphy, he said police were on the scene, and posted an image of an officer talking on the phone.
Added Adam DeAngelis, "The officer is probably getting an answering machine and immediately realizing 'oh right, no one's there.'"
The Obama administration ordered all national parks and other locations closed because the Republicans in the U.S. House wanted to try to fix some of the problems they see with Obamacare while they were re-funding it and the rest of government Monday.
The Democrats in the Senate refused to discuss anything, and so allowed the budget money for federal government operations to run out. The parks and memorials were not determined to be essential, so they were hit by the closure.
Added House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, "I'm told that they are at the World War II memorial site, regardless of the barriers."
Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane III said there was no immediate attempt to remove the veterans.
See additional parts of the Obamacare, shutdown story: