Have you been to the World War II Memorial in Washington? Not a great monument, but at least it doesn’t need a huge amount of upkeep. The pillars make it look a little like Stonehenge, which has been around for 4,000 to 5,000 years without government ofﬁcials to keep it tidy.
Obama administration folks yesterday decided to put up wooden barriers to keep visitors away from D.C.’s erect stones—but a group of Honor Flight World War II and Korea veterans who had fought fascism and communism didn’t give in. The Honor Flight program pays for veterans to visit Washington memorials, and yesterday 150 vets, helped by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, knocked over the barriers and risked arrest.
Time quoted Fred Yanow of Northbrook, Ill., who spent 1942-45 in the Paciﬁc theater as an Army private: “It’s a disgrace to shut down the memorial. … The government is working for themselves, and not for the public.”
Diane Gresse, Honor Flight’s executive director, said of the vets, “They’re in their mid-80s to 90s, and this is the only opportunity they’re ever going to have to be able to see that memorial. … Most of these men and women have been on a waiting list for one or two years, sometimes longer.”
Gresse added, “There’s a lot of difference between closing down a zoo and telling a veteran that he is going to be locked out of his or her memorial.”
Nearly 1,000 more vets are due in on Honor Flights through Sunday, with a total of 4,300 slated to visit the World War II memorial before the Honor Flight’s ﬂying season ends just before Thanksgiving.
Many other unnecessary closures are underway. Websites are lighter than stone pillars but apparently can stay up as long, judging by the way 30-year-olds embarrassed by their irrational exuberance as teens cannot cover their tracks. Why, then, are the Library of Congress, Department of Agriculture, and other websites inaccessible? It makes sense that they wouldn’t be updated, but putting up electronic barriers, like physical ones, smacks of gamesmanship.
Expect citizen efforts during the rest of this week to visit the Lincoln Memorial, which is normally open 24/7, including from 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. when it is unstaffed. Maybe some visitors will read there Father Abraham’s hope “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”