World War II veterans are greeted by Honor Flight organizers in Washington
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -
National parks and monuments are closed during the government shutdown, but a show of defiance at the World War II Memorial in Washington has some lawmakers working to keep the monument open.
Dozens of veterans who traveled all the way from Mississippi to honor comrades were greeted with barricades and yellow tape, but park employees let them into the World War II Memorial anyway.
A group of about 160 war veterans from Minnesota is heading to Washington this weekend as part of an Honor Flight – an organized "tour of honor" that safely escorts veterans to memorable places and experiences.
It's a trip many have been looking forward to for months, but the visit won't be the same if the Capitol is closed to tourists.
"I don't want to go under these conditions," said World War II veteran Al Jaeger. "Why are we going if we're going to be locked out of these places, having fences put around the memorials?"
Organizers of the trip who are dedicated to helping veterans visit the memorial said the vets deserve to see it.
"They kept this country free for us," said Honor Flight organizer Jerry Kyser. "It's our job as a community to keep it free and safe for them."
More than 600 World War II veterans dying every day, and for those that remain it's the smallest gestures that mean the most. Jaeger is 87 and is among the youngest surviving World War II vets, which is why time is of the essence.
At last check, Saturday's trip will go off as scheduled, with or without a modified agenda to visit the World War II Memorial.