A feud is mounting at the World War II Memorial site in Washington where hundreds more veterans are arriving on Honor Flights this week to tour their national monument, met by a growing contingent of lawmakers who are stepping up to ensure a proper visit.
On Tuesday, about 90 Honor Flight veterans visited the memorial, an open-air monument, where a handful of lawmakers led by U.S. Rep Steven Palazzo of Mississippi helped to cut police tape and move concrete barriers to allow the undeterred war heroes inside.
But a day after their gesture of civil disobedience, which earned massive praise and national media coverage, news comes that the White House may have denied an exception to allow the vets, most in their 80s and 90s, to see their memorial. That has sparked anger from Palazzo and other members of Congress who now vow to do whatever it takes to support the aging servicemen, the Daily Caller reported
Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran, plans to sponsor legislation that will allow them in during the shutdown, saying the Obama administration is using politics against men who deserve to be honored, not pushed aside.
"At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight, but having talked with officials, I can't help but think it was politically motivated," Palazzo told the Daily Caller.
"Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation's memorials are planned a year in advance and can cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation's veterans?"
Palazzo added in a statement about introducing a bill to keep access open: "This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24-7 access to under normal circumstances – even when Park Service personnel are present. It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue."
Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Mike Pompeo of Kansas were among a growing contingent of lawmakers on site at the memorial Wednesday morning. Pompeo, put his thoughts on Twitter.
Honor Flight's board chairman Jim McLaughlin told Newsmax on Tuesday
that about 3,500 vets are slated to take free flights to Washington in October, alone creating scheduling concerns as lawmakers seek compromise to end a government shutdown that has shuttered national parks nationwide.
For many, he said, the trips mark their last chance to see the monuments and they deserve proper dignity on their trips.
The Lincoln Memorial is also closed to public visitors, even as some have argued that it costs the Park Service more to close it that keep it open, given that it is an open-air monument and not a site to be toured, legalinsurrection.com reports
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