WASHINGTON – For the second consecutive day, veterans poured into the World War II memorial despite barricades, yellow police tape and signs reading “Do Not Enter” in bold black letters.
The memorial, like others that are on federal land, has been closed because of the federal government shutdown.
Numerous members of Congress were on hand Wednesday, ushering in dozens of veterans visiting the nation’s capital through Honor Flights from Illinois and Missouri.
“We talked as members about making sure there were enough of us down here so we could get them in,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
The National Park Service tweeted that the veterans would be able to see the monument that honors them.
The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII Memorial to conduct 1st Amendment actives in accordance with NPS regulations
— Carol B Johnson (@NationalMallPIO) October 2, 2013
Almost daily the Honor Flight Network brings groups of World War II veterans to the memorial.
Officials with the National Park Service reaffirmed the monument was legally closed, but they assured there would be no confrontation.
They lived up to their word, literally turning the other way.
Members of Congress simply unraveled yellow police tape, separated barriers and cleared a path.
“That’s part of our reason to try and be here is just to smooth the way, so the politics don’t keep them from seeing what they deserve to see,” Bachman said.
Veterans filled the sprawling open-air memorial, smiling and growing emotional as a crowd carrying flags and signs cheered.
“It’s very interesting,” said veteran Richard Dillon. “I’ve enjoyed myself.”
Dillon was asked whether he was ever concerned about potentially being turned away due to the government shutdown.
“I’m 90 years old. At my age, I don’t get concerned anymore,” he said.
On Tuesday, more than 125 veterans from Mississippi and Iowa visited the memorial.
An Honor Flight from Chicago joins a Missouri group. Click on the photo to see additional photos. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)