Tuesday morning, in the early hours of the shutdown, a contingent from the Mississippi Gulf Coast honor flight arrived at the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. The flight, according to the Washington Post, cost the group $80,000 for the chartered flight. Despite the closure of most U.S. museums, parks and memorials, the group’s plans couldn’t be changed at the last minute.
When they arrived, barricades blocked the World War II memorial’s entrance.
By lunchtime Tuesday, social media overflowed with details of the veterans’ trip to D.C. Instantly it became the theater that plays right into the hands of the shutdown’s opponents.
Someone moved the barricades. (Who is uncertain, according to The Post; most believed it was either a Park Service employee or a Mississippi congressman.) The 90 veterans, some in wheelchairs, others leaning on canes, made their way through the entrance and up to the memorial, where they posed for pictures and enjoyed their solemn visit.
A headline in the post read, “Visiting veterans storm closed war memorials.”
On Twitter, a photograph of Alabama Rep. Spencer Bachus assisting an Alabama veteran up to the memorial made the social media rounds.
Sen. John McCain, on Twitter, wrote, “Good for them! ‘WWII Vets Appear To Push Past Gates, Storm #Shutdown Memorial In DC.’”
Whenever the shutdown ends, these veterans’ almost-ruined trip to Washington will be but a sliver of the story. Nonetheless, it is a quintessential example of how the federal government, like it or not, is intertwined into everything in our lives. Without it, good people suffer in various and unnecessary ways.
That message seems to carry little weight with too many in today’s D.C.