The government shutdown figures to cause a lot of adversity for nearly all sectors of the country.
But 125 World War II veterans from Mississippi and Iowa decided to face a problem head on. They refused to let the shutdown stop them from a planned visit Tuesday morning to the World War II Memorial in Washington., D.C.
Just as in the war many of the vets were not ready to be turned back from their mission.
In wartime military men and women are sometimes faced with making split-second decisions when it comes to the actions they take. But, once a commitment is made to a mission there is often no turning back even when it appears the odds are stacked against succeeding.
That's why a group of Mississippi war veterans from Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight are being applauded for bucking the government shutdown in storming the closed WWII Memorial.
MORE: MS Honor Flight vets visit 'shut down' WWII memorial
They once were among those who stormed the beaches of Normandy displaying an uncommon valor. But, the obstacles 91 Mississippi WWII veterans were faced with when they arrived in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning at first appeared as insurmountable as anything they'd seen on the battlefield.
Barricades blocked their entrance to the hallowed WWII Memorial signaling the opening salvo of the nationwide effects of the federal government shutdown.
"We greet Honor Flight groups every single day here at this memorial," said Carol Johnson, WWII Memorial Park Ranger. "It's one of the favorite things of the rangers, superintendents. I like to come down and greet people and this is not something that we wanted to do, and it is unfortunate."
But, this group of veterans, ranging in age from 85 to 99, with half of them wheelchair bound, were not about to be denied their trip of a lifetime. Jodi Johnson Bowers, Vice President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, who sponsored the visit to Washington at a cost of $100,000, told FOX13 News by phone what happened next drew cheers and tears from the grateful vets.
"Congressman Palazzo, Steven Palazzo, he had him and quite a few other people from his office, and they lifted the barricade and pushed it aside and in we came," Bowers said. "They were excited. I mean they were happy. Nobody said, 'oh, we're going to be disappointed.' But, you just knew they would be."
Accompanied by the sound of bagpipes the vets swept past stunned Rangers' security guards into the closed park and right to the memorial's Mississippi soldiers section, where they took pictures with politicians eager to take credit for getting the vets in.
"We're going to use our authority to get you in here, because, the people who served us so greatly in World War II, for them to be denied to come into their memorial, it cannot be," said U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.)
Yet, Bowers said for the elderly vets the anxiety of possibly being turned away, followed by the euphoria after they entered, was taxing on them. Plus no bathrooms were made available to them as the park remained closed.
But, in peace as they were in war, the Mississippi vets remained hopeful and calm in the nation will eventually be restored.
"It's kind of heartwarming and heartbreaking about it," sand Winford Edgar, Mississippi World War II veteran. "We hope that they can get things worked out."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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