For a group of World War II veterans visiting the national memorial in Washington D.C., an all expense paid trip which is called an “Honor Flight,” the shutdown was not stopping them from seeing the tribute that was inspired by them.
“It just goes to show you why we won World War II,” says Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio President Lee Armstrong.
Many elderly veterans, some in wheelchairs, broke through the barriers set up around the memorial, as police, park service employees, and tourists looked on. “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,” says Armstrong.
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,” Armstrong explains.
He says they are considering going ahead with the trip even if the government is still on shutdown, but when he 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.'”
The memorial of course, is outdoors. At any other time, it’s simply there, open to the public, 24/7/365.
So the question we must ask the White House is, what is so “essential” about erecting barricades and possibly arresting aged veterans on what might be their last trip to Washington?
Now, if I were a cynic, my answer would be, “It’s nothing but shutdown theater which the Washington Steno Pool will gladly use to help Wiggleroom make the GOP look like meanies.”
But I’m not a cynic. I’m way past that now.