The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., was thrust into the media spotlight yesterday as the backdrop for one of the initial clashes between the American people and the federal government shutdown. As Kriston Capps reported yesterday, barricades that were blocking off the entrances to the memorial were opened, with assistance from some members of congress, to let in a group of veterans from the Honor Flight program.
For Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the author of the bill that created the memorial, this public space is the result of nearly two decades of labor.
“It’s something I worked on from 1987 to the year of its dedication, in May of 2004,” Kaptur says, standing in front of the barricaded memorial yesterday afternoon, which had been re-closed to visitors. “It is a massive public architecture project. Probably to build it today, [it would cost] well over a quarter of a billion dollars. It cost us close to $200 million by the time it was dedicated, so this is a very large project.”
With no clear end in sight as we enter Day Two of the shutdown, it’s possible that many more veterans from Honor Flights—which come regularly—will be barred from entering the memorial.
"For so many of these veterans, it is their only trip to Washington or their last trip to Washington," she says. "It takes a lot of work to bring them here and a lot of charitable dollars to bring them here."
As reported numerous places yesterday, some of the members of congress who participated in the reopening of the barriers to let in honor flight veterans were also members who voted for the shutdown. While Kaptur described current standoff as "an example of government at its worst," she did not agree with the methods used yesterday to open the barriers.
"If it had been my Honor Flight I would've found another way to do it, I wouldn't have just shoved the barriers aside. I think that's very inappropriate for elected officials," she says. "I would have probably worked with the park police and found a way to welcome the visitors and give them a good experience even though they couldn't be ushered down. So I think they should have done a little preparation."
Kaptur has an Honor Flight from her district, Ohio's 9th, coming to town on Oct. 9.
"We will have to see what happens here within the next week, and then we’ll have to figure out what to do," she says. "I personally would be in touch with the park police to see what’s the best experience we could give them if it remains closed."