“Police Remove Vietnam War Veterans at Memorial Wall,” John McCormack writes at the Weekly Standard:
Via William Jacobson, NBC’s affiliate in Washington, D.C. reports that police ordered tourists and Vietnam war veterans who were visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to leave the memorial at one point on Friday.
After one group of veterans went around the barricade, “the park ranger told them the wall was closed,” NBC’s Mark Seagraves reported. “Later another group of vets showed up and moved the barricades. At that point, the memorial filled with vets and tourists. That’s when police came and moved everyone out.”
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a black granite outdoor wall on which the names of the 58,272 service members who died or were unaccounted for during the Vietnam war are inscribed.
It takes more manpower and costs the government more money to close down an outdoor wall than to let people walk past it and pay their respects.
The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Regarding the closure of the World War II memorial, Mark Steyn described the park rangers newly cast into the role of “shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy:”
Nevertheless, just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that’s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come “shutdown,” they’re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.
So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow “Police Line — Do Not Cross” tape strung out like the world’s longest “We Support Our Troops” ribbon. For good measure, they issued a warning that anybody crossing the yellow line would be liable to arrest — or presumably, in extreme circumstances, the same multi-bullet ventilation that that mentally ill woman from Connecticut wound up getting from the coppers. In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.
Mr. Obama, tear down these walls!
Related: “Syracuse Honor Flight Kicks Over Barrycades at the Iwo Jima Memorial,” Ace writes. “They took the actual Iwo Jima. They’re not going to have much of a problem with the Iwo Jima memorial.” Carry on!
Meanwhile, even RINO-turned Obama supporter Kathleen Parker describes Mr. Obama’s current strategy as “A Monumental Mistake:”
Among the many reasons this was so clumsy, one stands out starkly: It isn’t as though the WWII guys can always come back another day. All are in their late 80s and early 90s, and time is of the essence. Moreover, most plan these trips well in advance and at considerable expense.
Thanks to the monument liberators, Washington officials were forced to rethink their decision and removed the barriers. The American People are now free to roam their public spaces that remember sacrifices beyond most imaginations.
Optically, symbolically and every other way, this seems too little too late. Shutting out veterans from their memorial touchstone was more than a bad call, a lapse of judgment, a mere moment of tone-deafness. In reality, it may have been the tidy effort of a box-checking bureaucrat, but it reeked of the small work of a petty bully.
Update: Bill Maher mocks WWII vets: “They’re the greatest generation – nobody said they were the brightest generation.”
To be fair, they did vote four times for FDR and gave rise to the coddled Boomer generation, of which Maher is a member. But it seems awfully churlish for the self-hating Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman to hold all that against them at this late date.
Meanwhile, a New York Times reporter “who has worked for the Times in Washington for two decades,” describes the Obama Administration as the “most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” Perhaps that explains why they didn’t anticipate the Barry-cades strategy to play so poorly in the real world beyond the White House’s fevered imagination.