GULFPORT, Miss.–Some 90 Mississippi veterans of World War II on their way to Washington, D.C. today could have trouble getting to any of the World War II memorials there. Cong. Steven Palazzo, who represents the coast and south Mississippi, says it is entirely possible armed guards or barriers could keep the vets away from the open air sites.
The veterans, most of them 90 plus years old, are going as part of what may be the final Honor Flight, which is a chance for them to see their memorials before they pass away. Many of them, if not most, have never been to the Vietnam, Korean War or any of the other memorials there.
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Palazzo said the government shutdown is to blame if they are shut out. He released this statement:
“I don’t know if this is a political ploy or a bureaucratic oversight, but even in the event of a government closure, there is no absolutely no justification for shutting out our veterans from their Memorial. This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24/7 access to under normal circumstances — even when Park Service personnel aren’t present. It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their Memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue. Mississippi veterans are still planning to travel to Washingtontomorrow to see their Memorial, and I still plan to be there to greet them. I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure these World War II veterans have access to their Memorial.”
The Honor Flight was still expected to go on as planned, as were similar flights from ten other states this week.