WWII vets storm memorial despite shutdown

It was a matter of honor.

With lawmakers and tourists cheering them on, 91 World War II vets on a visit to the nation’s capital stormed inside the World War II memorial in Washington on Tuesday, making short – but non-violent — work of the Park Police who tried to keep them out, Stars and Stripes reported.

The veterans had been brought to Washington by the Honor Flight network, which brings World War II veterans from around the country to D.C. for a day of remembrance, including a visit to the war memorial, which was officially closed Tuesday as part of the government shutdown.

Well, it was closed until the vets showed up.

“We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran declared.

But they didn’t do it without help.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-Iowa, distracted a Park Police representative while other lawmakers and aides knocked down metal barriers to the memorial.

The vets then filed into the center of the memorial, led by a bagpiper who was on hand for the occasion.

A large crowd that gathered burst into applause as they watched.

“This just means so much to me,” Army veteran Alex “Lou” Pitalo, who served in the Pacific, told Stars and Stripes. “I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping … I’m just so happy. This was amazing.”

Park Police are reviewing Tuesday’s incident for what to do in the future, since there’s no way of knowing when the government shutdown that started Tuesday will be resolved.

Honor Flight officials said they are advising planners of future trips that memorials will not be open to the public.

“Honor flight vets just knocked over the barriers at the WWII memorial to get inside, #shutdown or no,” Leo Shane III tweeted from the scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo credit: Ricky Carioti, instagram
vets
Photo credit: Ricky Carioti, instagram

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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