Government shutdown? Not on their watch. Ignoring the barriers around the closed WWII memorial in Washington today, a group of veterans forced their way in to see the landmark as scheduled.
The group, led by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, flew into D.C. from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport this morning. They had long planned a trip to visit the memorial, and were going to see it, no matter what.
Before landing in the capital, Army veteran Joe Cleveland told The Mississippi Press, “It's just going to be a fun trip, I think. It's an honor to be honored as a veteran.”
But when the group arrived, they found that the memorial was closed, along with numerous other government services. The closure is part of the broad government shutdown that started at midnight after House Republicans refused to pass a budget that included funding for the Affordable Care Act.
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Closed or not, the veterans marched right into the memorial amid applause.
Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane documented the event in a series of tweets:
Honor flight vets just knocked over the barriers at the WWII memorial to get inside, #shutdown or no.
Tons of applause as the WWII vets from Miss. storm their memorial. Park police on the way. #shutdown
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No attempt to stop any WWII visitors right now. Maybe after the congressmen leave ... #shutdown
The memorial tour is one of two “final flights” for the group, after which they will have treated about 550 veterans to an assortment of patriotic tours.
After the WWII memorial, the group was headed for the Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean and Iwo Jima memorials, and then Arlington Cemetery. It is unclear how they fared at these destinations, but the plucky vets are scheduled to return home in the evening.