WASHINGTON — Wheelchair-bound elderly veterans pushed aside barricades to tour the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning, in defiance of the government shutdown which closed all of the memorials in the nation’s capital.
The four bus loads of veterans — visiting from Mississippi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight tour — ignored National Park Police instructions not to enter the site as lawmakers and tourists cheered them on.
“We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran proclaimed.
As Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, distracted a Park Police representative, other lawmakers and their staff helped topple the metal fences. A bagpiper on hand for the event led the men past the crowd and into the heart of the memorial, attracting a large, applauding crowd.
“This just means so much to me,” said Alex “Lou” Pitalo, an Army vet who also served in the Pacific during WWII. “I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping … I’m just so happy. This was amazing.”
|Veterans and their escorts broke through the Barrycades and crime scene tape at the WW II Memorial.|