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Park Service Deems WWII Visits a First Amendment Demonstration, Doesn't Block Vets

Bohannon said both parties were at fault for the shutdown.

“I just blame them for not being able to get together. I think they’re both equal,” he said.

Since 2005, thousands of veterans began taking free trips, funded by donations, to visit their memorial. They make the trip from all over the nation to Washington, where they visit their memorial to commemorate the years they served, and those who served with them who are no longer alive, or capable of making the trip.

Another WWII veteran, Bob Platt of Kansas, said he was concerned he would not be able to visit the memorial after he heard about the government shutdown.

“I’ve had this planned for a long time,” he said. “I want to thank the members of Congress who made this possible.”

But not all veterans had kind words for Congress.

“They just refuse to comprise,” said WWII veteran Rob Bibby of Missouri. “When I was [in the Pacific], we served our country. They need to have the same philosophy in Congress.”

Some veterans found the media attention overwhelming, as several news outlets swarmed the entrance to the memorial.  A veteran from Kansas told PJM he felt that they were on exhibition and hoped to see the memorial in peace.

House Republican lawmakers pushed piecemeal budget plans under a fast-track procedure that required two-thirds majority for passage on Tuesday evening that would have opened the memorial and other national parks. The bill would have also funded veterans affairs and allowed the District of Columbia to use local revenue to fund government.

House Republican leaders brought those bills up again on Wednesday with time for more floor debate, and a lower, simple-majority threshold for passage. They sent the national parks and D.C. bills on to the Senate.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) offered Wednesday afternoon to pay for security staff to keep the memorial open.

“The Obama administration has decided they want to make the government shutdown as painful as possible, even taking the unnecessary step of keeping the Greatest Generation away from a monument built in their honor,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Speaking to reporters at the WWII Memorial, Priebus announced the RNC’s offer.

“That’s not right, and it’s not fair," he said. "So the RNC has put aside enough money to hire five security personnel to keep this memorial open to veterans and visitors."

The Democratic National Committee answered this with an email to supporters calling it a “meaningless stunt.”

SEE PICTURES OF TODAY'S EVENT ON THE NEXT PAGE