Comment
71484
Tweet
736
Print
RSS Feeds

Crowd storms World War II Memorial

Tuesday - 10/15/2013, 11:46am  ET

HANDSHAKE.jpg
World War II veteran Mike Lauriente accepts thanks for his service from demonstrators at the World War II Memorial on Sunday. (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)
  • Gallery: (23 images)

Lee, Palin speak

WTOP's Jamie Forzato reports

Download

A World War II vet finds it 'overwhelming'

WTOP's Jamie Forzato reports

Download

At the memorial

WTOP's Jamie Forzato reports

Download

'Tear down that wall'

WTOP's Jamie Forzato reports

Download

WASHINGTON - Thousands of people converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning and tore down the barricades blocking it off, protesting the closure of the memorial during the federal government shutdown.

Beginning at about 9:30 a.m., Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were among the luminaries in a crowd that chanted "Tear down these walls!" and sang "God Bless America" as well as other patriotic songs as they entered the memorial, which has been closed since the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Tractor-trailers headed down 17th Street toward the Mall, blaring their horns. The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off the street, prompting the crowd to head up the street, shouting at the police to move their vehicles.

Palin said that closing the memorials was disgraceful, and that President Obama "could be here today, saying 'Yes, we can tear down these barricades."

Cruz said that President Obama was using veterans as political pawns in the shutdown. Lee shouted, "The sons and daughters of the United States of America are meant to live in liberty."

"Demonstrators singing 'God Bless America'." (WTOP/Jamie Forzato)

By 11 a.m., the group had headed back to the memorial, and dozens congregated around World War II veterans, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service.

Later in the morning, veteran Mike Lauriente was accepting handshakes from demonstrators. He served in Sicily and French Morocco, and declared the memorial, which he was seeing for the first time, beautiful. "The spirit that I see here is overwhelming."

WTOP's Jamie Forzato contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

© 2013 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.