— A group of veterans walked past barriers at the closed World War II memorial with help from members of Congress on Tuesday, the first day of the government shutdown.
Hundreds of veterans arrived for a previously scheduled visit to the memorial Tuesday morning to find it barricaded by the National Park Service. Members of Congress, including Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, went to the site after receiving panicked emails and cut police tape to let in the veterans from Iowa and Mississippi.
Bachman says it was "pure joy" when the veterans were allowed in because they had traveled so far. She says members of Congress plan to continue coming down to the memorial to ensure veterans can visit.
Here are some thoughts from other outlets:
“The scene was both emotional and comical at once. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside, telling press that they had ‘asked for guidance on how to respond’ to the breach of security.
“As 80-something veterans slowly walked around the massive war memorial, Park Police stood quietly to the side, advising other tourists that the site was technically still closed. But they made no moves to stop the wishes of the war heroes.
“‘It’s great to be here, but it’s really disappointing that we can’t get closer to see it,’ said Gene Tolley, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Pacific during the war. ‘I came through the city back in high school, but I was looking forward to coming back and seeing this.’ ” – Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes (link)
“It’s the best civil disobedience we’ve seen in Washington for a long time. As the son of a World War II veteran, I just want to say, guys, forget about all this politics and all this junk. This is about you today, and this is about us saying thank you to you and your service.” – Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.)
“When elderly veterans pushed their way through police barricades Tuesday to get to the World War II memorial on the Mall, they not only became an instant online sensation, but also a symbolic protest against the government shutdown.
“It wasn’t just in D.C. National Park Service sites became a focus of the shutdown debate across the country, as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks closed, and families had to cancel or alter long-planned vacations.” – David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times (link)