A group of veterans and Republican lawmakers have stormed the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., breaking through barricades to access the memorial despite the federal government shutdown.
“Tourists will find every one of America's national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” Obama explained in a statement Tuesday. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.”
In keeping with Obama’s statements, the World War II Memorial in Washington shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT alongside national parks across the country.
According to CNN, World War II veterans arrived at the memorial as part of a planned trip on Tuesday morning, only to find that it had been closed due to the federal government shutdown. Undeterred, groups of veterans crossed the barricades anyway and entered the memorial. National park officials and police made no significant attempt to stop the veterans. Several politicians crossed the barricades as well, including many House Republicans and Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa.
Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), who was on site at the World War II Memorial Tuesday, had previously requested that President Obama keep the memorial open throughout the government shutdown.
"It would be truly devastating to our veterans that travel great lengths to share this experience with family and friends and see a piece of their own history," Palazzo wrote in an open letter to Obama the night before. "I request that you immediately instruct the Department of Interior and National Service to ensure that veterans are not denied access to monuments on the National Mall in the case of a government shutdown. It is the very least we can do for our Greatest Generation who sacrificed so much on behalf of our country."
According to Talking Points Memo, Palazzo didn’t just arrive on scene to support the veterans; he personally opened the memorial barricades, allowing the veterans inside. Jen Walton, secretary of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, tells TPM that Palazzo opened the barricades himself when veterans found the memorial closed.
"Pretty much Palazzo just opened the barricade and we followed him in," Walton said.
â€” Leo Shane III (@LeoShane) October 1, 2013