World War II Vets Storm World War II Memorial

WW2 Memorial

A group of World War II veterans who had flown in especially to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington under a program known as “Honor Flights” where elderly veterans are brought to D.C. at little or no cost to them weren’t going to let a little thing like a government shutdown stand in the way of their objective:

Seventy years ago they fought fascists. Now they’re fighting partisan gridlock.

A group of about 140 World War II veterans spent a day at their monument on the National Mall on Tuesday — despite the site being closed amid a government shutdown — after they were joined by a group of Republican lawmakers, some of whom claimed to have pushed aside the barriers.

After the barriers were taken away, the site remained “technically closed” on Tuesday, even as the public walked freely around the open-air monument.

National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said that she did not have the authority to re-close the monument, and said that about 330 park rangers in the nation’s capital had been furloughed because of the funding cut.

It was unclear exactly who had moved the barriers. Rep. Steve King of Iowa tweeted that veterans were “locked out” of the memorial, and “we opened it.”

Other reports indicated that the veterans moved the barriers or that multiple pairs of hands played a part.

“They were disappointed they couldn’t go on to the grounds, but they also understood why the grounds were closed,” said Patrick McCourt, an Honor Flight volunteer. “I don’t think that the veterans would have opened the gates. They have more respect for the circumstances than normal tourists.”

Tuesday’s Honor Flights included 91 veterans from Mississippi and about 50 more from Iowa, McCourt said.

Stars and Stripes described it this way:

WASHINGTON — 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.

Of course they didn’t. Shutdown or not, these guys deserved to see what they came to see. Good for them.

Photo via Twitter feed of Stars And Stripes Reporter Leo Shane

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    It’s not like the impending government shutdown hasn’t been front page news for days now. But, yeah, it makes no sense barring these guys from seeing an outdoor display of stone monuments.




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  2. Fair point but my understanding is that these flights are booked months in advance. I’ve run into these groups when I’ve been down on the Mall several times a lot of these guys have never even been to D.C. before.




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  3. C. Clavin says:

    The idiots who shut down the Government…Palazzo, King, Bachmann…rushed to open it for the Veterans.
    So much for the courage of your convictions.
    Maybe if it’s not a good idea to lock out the Vets…it’s not a good idea to shut down the Government in the first place.
    Just sayin’




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  4. C. Clavin says:

    “…But, yeah, it makes no sense barring these guys from seeing an outdoor display of stone monuments…”

    Um…it makes no sense shutting down the Government in order to deny sick people health care.
    But here we are.




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  5. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: Oh, I concur and have made that clear in several previous posts. I’m just saying an outdoor monument is different from, say, a museum.




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  6. anjin-san says:

    Something tells me GOP members of congress will be nowhere to be seen when impovershed senior citizens, hungry children, and the mentally ill suffer because of their actions.




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  7. Tillman says:

    @James Joyner: It’s a technicality. They don’t have the park rangers to, uhh, range about, so they close the monuments. Some issues about upkeep and sanitation are probably involved.

    Really, I’m more unnerved at how the NRCC has already cashed in on this with a Facebook pic saying the veterans were defying the Democrats’ shutdown of government.




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  8. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Some issues about upkeep and sanitation are probably involved.

    And security, hooliganism.




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  9. al-Ameda says:

    It was unclear exactly who had moved the barriers. Rep. Steve King of Iowa tweeted that veterans were “locked out” of the memorial, and “we opened it.”

    Steve King is the biggest waste of oxygen in the House. He caused the shutdown and now he’s pretending to be the guy who raised the flag at Iwo Jima? Give that man another Kool-Aid.




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  10. Anderson says:

    @al-Ameda: From what I remember about the origins of the “Kool-Aid” line, one is plenty.




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  11. rudderpedals says:

    @Anderson: To broaden the kool aid experience it’s gentler to spike the booze with acid. The results couldn’t be any worse (and probably a lot better)




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  12. rudderpedals says:

    Bonus Army meets the 21st century?




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  13. Dave says:

    It’s an open-air monument that’s accessible to the public 24/7. People come and go, unsupervised, at all times of the day and night. Security wasn’t a reason to close the monument as the Park Police were apparently there anyway to keep people out. The easiest and cheapest thing for the National Park Service to do was nothing. Somebody at the National Park Service had to go out of their way to arrange barricades and set them up, and the ONLY reason for that was to inflict as much pain on the public as they could.




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  14. superdestroyer says:

    I do not understand the idea of closing the WWII memorial. It is open all of the time and one can walk around it on Christmas day or in the middle of the night.

    What is humorous is the DC visitors bureau quickly put out a list of places that are open in the DC such as Newseum, Spy Museum, and Mt Vernon. If tourist had a trip schedule they can at least salvage something from it.




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  15. Paul L. says:

    @Anderson:
    @al-Ameda:
    I love when progressives use “drinking the KoolAid” ignoring that Jim Jones was one of them.




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  16. anjin-san says:

    Jim Jones was one of them.

    Well sure. Just like Tim McVeigh is “one of you”…




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  17. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    As others have noted, a true “shut down” would have had zero effect on the Memorial. As Ace of Spades noted, it’s scenery. It took an expenditure of people, resources, and money to specifically shut it down.

    It was shut down by the Parks Service, which is part of the Department of the Interior, which is part of the Executive Branch. Which means that several levels of Obama appointees are responsible for the decision to block off a large hunk of scenery.

    For cheap political theater. Much like the memo sent out after the sequester to make the cuts as publicly painful as possible.

    Hey, wait a minute… aren’t we still under the sequester? Why hasn’t the world ended yet?




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  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Well sure. Just like Tim McVeigh is “one of you”…

    You’re going back… what? 18 1/2 years? Why not go for more recent incidents of political violence? Say, the Occupy movement? Oh, that was your side. How about the guy who shot up the Family Research Council? Yeah, one of yours, too. That guy was a gay activist who used the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate groups” list, and also had a hate-on for Chick-Fil-A.

    You got anything from, say, this century?




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  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Let me make it even clearer: a good number of people who voted for Obama were in diapers when McVeigh did his bombing. That’s your reference point.




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  20. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Come on, the parks are clearly closed as a liability issue.

    I know “patriots” won’t care, until they trip, fall, and try to sue.




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  21. Dave says:

    @john personna: How was the situation at the WWII Memorial any different in that regard this morning versus one week ago?




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  22. inhumans99 says:

    Jenos, are you really comparing Tim McVeigh’s actions to those of the Occupy movement?

    Wow, just…wow.




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  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @inhumans99: Jenos, are you really comparing Tim McVeigh’s actions to those of the Occupy movement?

    Yes, I am. And I’ll toss in the people who planned on bombing the Republican National Convention in 2008.

    The main difference being that McVeigh was competent. Much like Hitler wasn’t that different from all the anti-Semites before him; just he was more efficient about it.




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  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: Have you ever BEEN to the WWII Memorial? I have. Wasn’t a Park Ranger in sight the day I was there.




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  25. john personna says:

    @Dave, @Jenos Idanian #13:

    If you can both assure me that this park has no safety personnel and has always relied on local police etc., then I’d probably defer.

    But I don’t think that’s the way it works. Parks generally have rangers. That’s the reason California State Parks closed in our budget crises.

    In fact, if you’ve got to make arrangements for local coverage of safety and security … oops you can’t do that because you are supposed to be home not doing anything.




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  26. john personna says:

    Besides which, WTF?

    Is this seriously going to be a conservative meme?

    “hurray we shut down the government!”

    “hey wait, you cant shut down that!”

    Imbeciles.




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  27. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Now THAT was a classic “Jenos throws feces” moment.

    Forget I even talked to you.




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  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: I don’t know what the official policy is, so I’m not offering any assurances on anything. It is federal property, being on the Mall, so technically it falls under federal jurisdiction, but the day I visited, I didn’t notice any officials.

    Wait, lemme think. Yeah, I did. One Parks Service official giving a guided tour. They got in my way once. (They probably would say that I got in their way, but I’m telling this story, so shut up.) But I walked all around it without any interference or supervision.

    But I lined to Ace’s article. There’s a big overhead photo. He says it best — it’s scenery. It’s a bunch of earth and stone and metal and water. Maybe they might need to turn off the pumps for the water, but the rest? People walk around, unguided and unsupervised, all the time. That’s the very nature of the Memorial. It’s like a supermarket trying to save on labor costs by shutting down the self-service registers.




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  29. Dave says:

    @john personna: That’s just retarded. The Park Police were right there this morning despite the shutdown. Are you simply stupid or completely mentally deficient?




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  30. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: I dunno if you’re still reading, but here’s a quote from the Parks Service’ web page:

    The public may visit the World War II Memorial 24 hours a day. Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily and to provide interpretive programs every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

    So for 10 hours a day — including most of the night — it was wide open and unattended.




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  31. An Interested Party says:

    You got anything from, say, this century?

    Umm, considering the original reference was to someone who died in 1978, someone from this century wasn’t needed as a counterpoint…




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  32. john personna says:

    @Dave, @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t know what they did on staffing, but they were certainly charged with cutting it to the minimum, for “shutdown.”

    That’s what makes “we want shutdown, and our parks too” so irrational and childish.

    I mean WHICH do you want, shutdown or parks?




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  33. john personna says:

    Do you “give me shutdown and give me parks” people ever stop to wonder why people consider you the stupid party or the crazy party?

    In. A. Nutshell.




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  34. john personna says:

    “Hey, we shut down the government!”

    “Wait, everything we like was supposed to keep going”

    Morons.




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  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: When it costs more money to shut down the park (paying people to go there, put up barriers, and assign people to keep people out) than to leave it open (just no Parks people to answer questions and give tours), common sense says do the latter.

    But the Obama policy of “make the cuts hurt as much as possible,” then it makes perfect sense to do the former.




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  36. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    @john personna: When it costs more money to shut down the park (paying people to go there, put up barriers, and assign people to keep people out) than to leave it open (just no Parks people to answer questions and give tours), common sense says do the latter.

    Oh my God.

    You just stated the reason The Whole Shutdown is insane.

    The Whole Shutdown costs more money than not, continuing, and so “common sense says do the latter.”

    Nimrod.




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  37. john personna says:
  38. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    You got anything from, say, this century?

    Well, I mentioned McVeigh as a counterpoint to a comment about Jim Jones, who is infamous for something that took place when McVeigh was in grade school. Did you miss that? Anyway, your point, like pretty much everything you say, is laughable.

    And I don’t mean funny laughable. I mean the government may be shut down, but you are still cranking out the stupid.




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  39. Dave says:

    @john personna:Wow, you f*cking shit for brains. Are you even paying attention?




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  40. David M says:

    I fail to see the problem here. The GOP wants the parks closed, end of story. They shouldn’t get to say they aren’t responsible when a group of veterans show up.

    The veterans should realize they are one of the many things the the GOP cares less than about taking healthcare from millions of people. That is the overriding principle right now for the GOP, and this is the result of that obsession.




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  41. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:
    I love it that conservatives are gleeful over trivial things like leveraging the Debt Limit Ceiling into a downgrade in the rating of America’s federal debt securities.




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  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Dave:

    @john personna:Wow, you f*cking shit for brains. Are you even paying attention?

    Stay classy my friend.




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  43. Just Me says:

    My family has been involved with and supportive of Honor Flight for several years now. It’s goal is to get every WWII veteran to the memorial befor they die (they die at a rate of about 1,000 a day). The flights are booked months in advance and there are waiting lists.

    The monument is an open air space that is open 24/7 so the barricades were political theater.

    Glad the veterans moved them and if anyone wants to do something useful with their money or time (when veterans return from DC volunteers great them at the airport with flags and in New England at Manchester they have a band playing) I urge you to get involved.




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  44. Dave says:

    @al-Ameda: Blah, blah. As if john personna or you actually give a rat’s ass about class or anything approaching civil discourse, dirtbag.




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  45. Grewgills says:

    It was unclear exactly who had moved the barriers. Rep. Steve King of Iowa tweeted that veterans were “locked out” of the memorial, and “we opened it.”

    Says the man that helped make certain it was closed.




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  46. Gustopher says:

    It’s an outrage, I tell you, an outrage du jour.

    Why would anyone listen to the perpetually outraged about anything?




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  47. Grewgills says:

    In the end the veterans get the park to themselves for the day, end up in the news, and have a story for their grandkids, politicians get to grand stand, and people on the internet get to complain about political theater.




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  48. Scott O says:

    I’m sure Steve King will visit the site everyday during the shutdown to sweep up and empty the trash cans.




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  49. Corey Mondello says:

    Love it, Republicans vote one way but act different in public because they know most if their supporter are idiots. For instance Shut Down supporter Rep. Steve King of Iowa. Imagine if he had any integrity. He wouldn’t of Tweeted that he was even there, but though he supported the shut down he wanted his constituents to know he was pro Veterans, at least these ones, not so much the current and soon to be.




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  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: In the end the veterans get the park to themselves for the day, end up in the news, and have a story for their grandkids, politicians get to grand stand, and people on the internet get to complain about political theater.

    When you put it that way, it seems like a win all around…




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  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Scott O: I’m sure Steve King will visit the site everyday during the shutdown to sweep up and empty the trash cans.

    Here’s a thought: have some Tea Partiers announce they’re going to hold rallies at the Monument. Considering that every Tea Party gathering leaves the venue at least as clean, if not cleaner, than it was before, it could work out nicely.




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  52. Just Me says:

    King was there to meet the Veterans as was Palazzo because those veterans were from their states.

    Either way-pretty sure WWII veterans aren’t going to be throwing trash at their memorial.




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  53. JKB says:

    The whole closing outside seems ripe for ridicule and as these veterans did, failure to yield to stupidity. Buildings, tours and such, yes, but outside? Saw they were shutting down the Smokey Mountain NP, but they can’t by law close the through road (ahh, federalism). I assume people are admonished against looking at the trees or odd squirrel crossing the road.




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  54. john personna says:

    News this day is that GOP “activists” are going to make a “revolution” of opening up things they just closed.

    There are no words.

    @JKB:

    Tell me JKB, how much time and how many millions did Congress allocate for careful study of what should be opened and what should be closed? Or is the law in fact that everything “non-essential” should be closed?




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  55. M R says:

    @Gustopher: This sums up our modern life nicely: http://neuromancergaf.minus.com/lgGkKDvTGpg8I




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  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: Here’s a good rule of thumb: if it’s designed to be closed, then it should be closed. So, if it has a door and a lock, then close the door and lock it.

    But if it’s scenery, like the WWII memorial, just leave it alone like they do normally.




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  57. al-Ameda says:

    @Dave:

    @al-Ameda: Blah, blah. As if john personna or you actually give a rat’s ass about class or anything approaching civil discourse, dirtbag.

    Yeah, we know that you certainly don’t care, and are seemingly incapable of it.

    Republican hypocrites want the shutdown then pretend to be outraged when the shutdown affects a service that they pretend to value. Well, what is it? All-in or all-hypocrite?




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  58. al-Ameda says:

    @Scott O:

    I’m sure Steve King will visit the site everyday during the shutdown to sweep up and empty the trash cans.

    I’m guessing that he’ll hire a few illegals to do that.




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  59. JKB says:

    Obama couldn’t be bothered to send help to the Americans at Benghazi, but has sent reinforcements to keep WWII vets out of their memorial.

    Also, the NPS thinks they can grant Americans their First Amendment rights.

    One thing this shutdown is revealing is the near complete ignorance of the DC pundits and government workers of the Constitution, how the separation of powers really works and the relationship of the federal government to the People. It’s sad, you’d think all those fancy colleges would have taught a little bit about America.




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  60. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    If I had to guess, I’d say it’s mostly a littering problem. As long as the shutdown persists they can neither hire someone nor send someone to clean it at the end of the day.




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  61. An Interested Party says:

    Obama couldn’t be bothered to send help to the Americans at Benghazi, but has sent reinforcements to keep WWII vets out of their memorial.

    It’s nice to see that you are as slimy and as disingenuous as your GOP heroes in Congress…




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  62. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    It gets even better, if you follow Ace Of Spades. The Obama administration shut down a Colonial Wiliamsburg recreation that is totally self-sustaining. And the WWII Memorial was built with private donations. It turns out that they raised a lot more than they needed, and what can be done with the leftover? “Remaining funds are held on deposit with the U.S. Treasury in a National WWII Memorial Trust Fund. The funds will be used by the American Battle Monuments Commission solely to benefit the World War II Memorial.”

    Such as, say, keeping it open during a shutdown so the Honor Flights can continue.

    But “bad optics.” And the Obama administration’s previously-declared intent to make the cuts hurt as much as possible.




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  63. Just Me says:

    Once again-Honor Flights are a charity that brings groups of veterans to the memorial.

    King and Palazzo were going to the memorial to meet groups from their home states-the articles I have read with comments from Palazzo says he meets all the Honor Flight groups. Palazzo tried to get the park opened for the vets and was told no. The veterans decided to go in anyway.

    No big deal, but don’t slight two congressmen who make a habit of meeting and greeting these veterans as they come to see the memorial-it’s a kind and respectful action by congressmen.




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  64. Please, let’s leave politics out of the discussion of the Honor Flight people. I’ve run across these groups, and the people who bring them to D.C., many times when I’ve been down on the National Mall in recent years. The veterans just want to see the Memorials. Many of them, as I said in the post, have never been to D.C. before. The volunteers who accompany them seem to me to be completely genuine and nice people. It kind of stinks that they got caught up in this political fight, but it’s not their fault




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  65. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    God, don’t you just hate it when a bunch of 70+ year olds “storm” something or other. Kudos to the headline writer and a free copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.




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  66. Jason L. says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I was there a couple of years back and, as well, no park rangers out or about………ditto that for the Vietnam War and Korean War Memorials, Lincoln Memorial, and, well, practically everywhere else. Only place we saw them was near the Washington Monument telling people that it was closed due to the damage taken by the shaker that had happened like 4 months before…




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