National Park Service to keep WW II Memorial open to veterans
Obama’s barricades won’t stop the greatest generation
World War II veterans have succeeded in breaching the barricades Obama installed around the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.
At Marion Park, on Capitol Hill, two fence gates were chained closed, but one was not , and children played inside.
At the Korean War Memorial, on the Mall, the entrance was blocked with barricades, but visitors just walked around the barriers and entered.
At the closed-off World War II Memorial, two days of assaults by aged veterans prompted the National Park Service to announce that they had legal right to be there to be there and would not be barred in the future.
Across federal Washington Wednesday, the government close down was leaking badly.
It was partly as a result of citizen contrarians, the aged war veterans, politicians, and the difficulty of enforcement by the National Park Service.
While many memorials, parks, and monuments overseen by the park service were closed off to visitors, others, like Lafayette Square, McPherson Square, and DuPont Circle remained open as “pedestrian pass-through.”
“It would be impossible to” close them, said park service spokeswoman Carol Bradley Johnson.
In the cases of other parks, it’s difficult tio make it evident that a park is closed, said another park service spokeswoma, Jennifer Mummart.
“In big western parks, where you have an entrance gate, you shut the gate and its very evident to everyone that it’s closed,” she said.
“Here, in DC, it’s pretty unique, because there’s…what essentially amount to neighborhood national parks,” she said. “Although they’re not fenced or barricaded they are in fact closed because we dont have a (funding) appropriation.”
She said the park service sought to close the city’s 20 playgrounds at federal neighborhood parks for safety reasons.
“Because we dont have anyone to patrol that playground area, and empty the trash and check for broken equipment…we just felt like its better to ensure safety,” she said.
David Shove Brown, 40, passed a locked down playground at Lincoln Park with his three-year-old daughter, Brighid, and two dogs. “It’s very surreal,” he said.
“Somebody gave the instruction to fabricate the (closed) signage…go around and place the signage and lock the gates, and go through this process, for four slides and some monkey bars,” he said. “Really? Is that what the solution is?”
At Stanton Park, also on Capitol Hill, a father looked at the chain and padlock on the gate around the playground, raised his eyebrows, then lifted his four-year-old son over the fence.
He clambered over, as his son dashed away to gather chestnuts, leaving a baby asleep in a stroller on the other side of the fence. Another dad soon followed, dropping his daughter over the fence.
More and more climbed in, mostly without even an apparent second thought.
Underneath the slide, where children gathered playing “bus,” the little girl asked where they were going.
“To jail, for defying Congress,” one parent joked under his breath.
“We’re conscientious objectors,” another said.
On the Mall, the barricades blocking the entrance to the Korean War Memorial and the “closed” sign were no impediment to people who just walked around and entered.
At the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, barricades at both entrances seemed to have been pushed aside and the memorial was thronged with visitors.
At the World War II Memorial veterans, accompanied by legislators, for the second day breached the barricades before the park service said they had the right to enter.
After similar scenes Tuesday, two groups of veterans from Missouri and the Chicago area descended on the memorial in two phases before noon, this time led by Republican and Democrat legislators.
Tony Faklis, 88, a Army combat veteran and squad leader from Joliet, Ill., was there with the group from Chicago. He said he served in France and Germany, and his brother , Lt. Peter J. Faklis, was killed in Germany on Dec. 7, 1944.
“I didn’t know it until the war ended,” Tony Faklis said. “The family didnt want me to know.”
He was happy to get in to the memorial, which he had not seen before. “I was so impressed with all the attention, that we dont deserve,” he said. “But…we appreciated it.”
“I think it’s beautiful,” he said. Told the fountains were off because of the shutdown, he said: “Oh, the shutdown. What the hell. Don’t make sense.”