Veterans' D.C. visit makes memorial a symbol in shutdown battle


Of all the effects of the federal government shutdown, it’s a temporarily barricaded war memorial blocking out veterans that has sparked the biggest backlash.
The story of the veterans from Iowa and Mississippi who politely breached the gates at the World War II Memorial on Tuesday in defiance of the National Park Service has captured the attention of CNN, Fox News and dozens of other media outlets.
Among the new twists Wednesday: Sixty-eight years after World War II veterans last saw combat, they won another battle. National parks officials backtracked and said Honor Flight groups would be granted access to the World War II Memorial even though all national parks remain closed.
“That’s absolutely hilarious,” said Glenn Hillesland, a World War II veteran from Ames. “We did some good.”
Hillesland was in a group of 150 Iowa veterans whose trip to Washington, D.C., happened to occur on the first day of the shutdown.
Veterans from Mississippi got to the memorial first, and, while Iowa’s U.S. Rep. Steve King distracted a parks police officer, the veterans — with the aid of a few other congressmen and staffers — pushed past the metal fencing.
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