Closure of War Memorials Continues to Cause Conflict

The closure of D.C.'s war memorials continues to be a source of contention for tourists and law enforcement officials.

Like the hundreds of World War II veterans who came to National Mall to pay their respects this week, a group of Vietnam veterans found a barricade blocking the way to their memorial Friday. News4's Mark Segraves said two U.S. Park Service Rangers manning the gate asked that the group respect the government's shutdown but moved aside.

Segraves described the exchange as pleasant and respectful.

The veterans then moved the barricade and walked down to the wall to pay their respects. But a flood of tourists followed even though the memorial is closed to the general public.

"The consensus among the group of Vietnam veterans was we're going to go anyway. We'll go through the barricade," North Carolina resident Reid Mendenhall said.

U.S. Park Police arrive to the scene, asked everyone to leave and put the barricade back into place.

Conflict over the closure of D.C.'s war memorials has drawn a lot of controversy this week.

Congressman Randy Neugebauer, a Republican representing Texas, confronted a U.S. Park Service Ranger Wednesday over access to the World War II Memorial. But tourists in the crowd soon chastised the congressman for what they perceived as his role in the shut down. 

Earlier in the week, hundreds of vets on Honor Flights from Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and other locations poured into the site after members of Congress, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann, removed the barriers.

Since then, tourists and veterans alike have gained access to the World War II memorial by parting the barriers -- the Park Rangers cannot stop individuals from going in.


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