Realizing their resistance is futile, the National Park Service decided the veterans determined to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. despite the government shutdown are exercising their first amendment rights which lets them through. The vets will not be stopped.
"All Honor Flights are being granted access to the World War II Memorial to conduct 1st Amendment activities," the Park Service announced moments ago, per Stars and Stripes' Leo Shane. (Update: This is the 2010 Circuit Court decision that the Park Service is using to allow Veterans to attend the memorials despite the shutdown.) After a huge crowd of reporters, politicians and local supporters gathered at the memorial Wednesday, hoping for a repeat of the inspiring defiance shown by a group of Mississippi veterans the day before. Before the statement was released, a new group of veterans arrived at the memorial and forced their way in again while Park police stood by and did nothing:
Vets make it in. Police literally turn their backs! pic.twitter.com/o9tl2IcRIk— Nick Iannelli (@NickWTOP) October 2, 2013
As Shane explains, the Park Service chose to effectively exploit the rules of a government shutdown to avoid a sticky situation where they otherwise would have to force out and possibly arrest a group of veterans. No one wants that. "There's no reason for this to be closed, it's a sidewalk," Rep. Louie Gohmert told the Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly prior to the Park Service announcement.
Even under #shutdown rules, "1st amendment activities" are allowed at closed memorials. Definition is murky. Honor Flight visits count now.— Leo Shane III (@LeoShane) October 2, 2013
Meanwhile, Republicans are lining up to shake the veterans' hands and turn the whole scene into a nice photo op. Michele Bachman, ever the caring matriarch, has been hounding the scene all morning:
Michele Bachmann has arrived to save the honor flight vets pic.twitter.com/j1Q92CAtFu— daveweigel (@daveweigel) October 2, 2013
The line of veterans forced to shake hands with GOPers before entering memorial. pic.twitter.com/ujkNpryojw— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) October 2, 2013
No matter, the important thing here is the veterans got what they want. Now onto the rest of the country, hm?