Elderly Vets (Very Calmly) "Storm" D.C.'s Shuttered WWII Memorial

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 1 2013 1:07 PM

Elderly Vets (Very Calmly and Peacefully) "Storm" D.C.'s Shuttered WWII Memorial

Normandy this was definitely not, but a busload of elderly veterans this morning briefly grabbed the shutdown spotlight when they managed to visit the shuttered World War II Memorial. Exactly how they overcame the barricades and eluded park police who were enforcing the shutdown-forced closure remains somewhat up for debate—but despite a few early reports suggesting that the group "stormed" the monument on the Washington Mall, it appears as though this was mostly a peaceful and respect-filled affair.

Busloads of World War II veterans, many in wheelchairs, broke past a barricade Tuesday to cross into the World War II Memorial, as onlookers applauded and a man playing the bagpipes led the way. ... [A] spokeswoman from the Park Service said efforts were no longer being made to hold anyone back, and security officers could easily be seen standing aside. "These are important visitors," she told reporters, adding that they're seeking guidance from the director's office on "where we go next."

An unnamed U.S. Park Police officer told a similar story to the Washington Post. "I'm not going to enforce the no stopping or standing sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans," the officer said. "I’m a veteran myself." A spokesman for the veterans group, meanwhile, suggested that Rep. Steven Palazzo, the Mississippi Republican who greeted the veterans, was the one who actually "opened the barricade" to let the vets through after speaking with the park officers.

"We didn't have a definite plan, so we knew we were going to come here and just see what was going on and if we were going to be able to go in," Jen Walton, the secretary of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, told Talking Points Memo over the phone.

The back story: The group of 90 or so veterans—ranging in ages between 84 to 98—are in the nation's capitol for a visit that was planned before Congress forced the current government shutdown. The WWII memorial was one of the main attraction's on their itinerary but the outdoor monument was closed down this morning by the National Park Service, which no longer has the staff necessary to keep the monument open thanks Congress's most recent failure.

Here's a few pics from some reporters on the scene:

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.