Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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 | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller