October 30, 2014

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Veterans pass barriers at closed WWII memorial

Korean War veteran Frederick Jenkins, from Iowa, third from left, poses for a photograph at National World War II Memorial in Washington Tuesday. Veterans who had traveled from across the country were allowed to visit the National World War II Memorial after it had been officially closed because of the partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Korean War veteran Frederick Jenkins, from Iowa, third from left, poses for a photograph at National World War II Memorial in Washington Tuesday. Veterans who had traveled from across the country were allowed to visit the National World War II Memorial after it had been officially closed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — Dozens of veterans barricaded outside the closed World War II Memorial because of the government shutdown were escorted past the barriers Tuesday by members of Congress so they could see the monument.

More than 125 veterans from Mississippi and Iowa arrived for a previously scheduled visit to the memorial Tuesday morning to find it barricaded by the National Park Service. Several members of Congress escorted them inside after cutting police tape and moving barriers that blocked the memorial.

John Kleinschmidt, 87, of Ames, Iowa, said the barriers were opened just enough for his group to walk through freely by the time he arrived. Kleinschmidt trained as a flight engineer during World War II but was never deployed abroad.

“It’s unfortunate that this is what happens when they know that there are busloads of veterans coming down here, and they don’t have the good sense to say keep the damn thing open,” he said. “These are the guys that created it.”

The Honor Flight Network brings groups of World War II veterans from across the country for free to visit the memorial built in their honor on an almost daily basis.

Wayne Lennep, a volunteer with the Mississippi Coast Guard Honor Flight group, said the trip had been planned for months for a group of 91 veterans as well as family members and escorts. Their chartered plane left Gulfport, Miss., on Tuesday morning.

The veterans were met at the memorial by Sen. Roger Wicker and Reps. Steven Palazzo, Alan Nunnelee and Gregg Harper, all Mississippi Republicans. Other lawmakers joined as well. Lennep said Wicker and Palazzo have met the veterans on previous trips.

Palazzo told the Mississippi Press of Pascagoula that he moved the barricades.

“We cannot deprive our veterans of coming here,” Palazzo said of moving the barricades. “This is their day.

Rep. Michele Bachmann was out walking in her shorts and long-sleeved t-shirt when she got a panicked email from another member of Congress, she said. She came to the memorial and began taking pictures. Another lawmaker cut the tape, and the lawmakers escorted the veterans in, Bachmann said. Several lawmakers plan to continue coming to the memorial to ensure veterans can visit, she said.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Bachmann said. “It was big buses and a narrow strip of sidewalk, and there were all these veterans standing here behind police tape and they’re prevented from going in to see the memorial.”

Lennep said blocking off the memorial seemed excessive.

“I don’t really understand why they would have barricaded veterans out of their own memorial anyway,” he said. “If there are people there guarding it to keep people out, they could watch people as they visit.”

National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said park rangers enjoy greeting theveterans. The memorial was closed, she said, because of an order to close all park service grounds to protect the sites and keep visitors safe while more than 300 workers are furloughed.

“This is not something the park service wanted to do. We’d like to get back to work,” Johnson said.

Charles Ricketts, a veteran from Ames, Iowa, blamed Congress, not the National Park Service, for nearly ruining his group’s trip.

“I’m not impressed with Congress’ ability or the president,” he said. “They’re not showing us much leadership and judgment. It’s all political.”


  • Smira29595

    Good for them it’s on outside monument for crying out loud………………….

  • Beentheredonethat

    God Bless our Veterans for keeping us safe!
    Kind of gave the current administration the middle finger salute today!
    Thank you for your service!

  • Pablo Jones

    I’ve been to the WWII memorial several times. I don’t recall seeing any Federal workers that were working there. More time was probably spent putting up the barriers than was spent there over the previous week.

    • Phil Blank

      The workers are the ones who polish the memorial and pick-up the trash.
      All on unemployment now.

      • Pablo Jones

        Who has seen a government worker polishing a memorial or monument? When I have seen work being done to the monuments it was being performed by a private contractor. As for the trash it would have been faster for them to put up a sign that says “Government shut down. Please respect the memorials and pick up the trash if you see it.” And they aren’t on unemployment.

  • CharlesMartel732

    PharaO Barrack not letting this happen again, he’s adding more barricades.

    The man has no honor.

  • bpbatista

    Sherrod Brown voted to shut down the government and the WWII Memorial so he and his Democrat cronies could keep the illegal Obamacare subsidy for Congress and their staffs.

    And then Marcie Kaptur voted against bills to fund the National Park Service and veterans benefits. Why does Kaptur hate veterans?

  • alreadyfedup1

    Stormed the beaches as a young man now stormed the Democrat raised barriers as old men. You still got it boys!

  • Beentheredonethat

    I understand that Obama had more people trying to keep the American WW2 Veterans out of their Memorial then was provided to keep our ambassadors safe in Benghazi!
    O wait Old Hillary was in charge of protecting the ambassadors!
    Well only four died and at this point as Old Hillary said:
    What difference does it make!