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Topics: Veterans Affairs

National Park Service ignores vets as they breach World War II memorial barricades again

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Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,Interior,Veterans Affairs,Washington,Government Shutdown,National Park Service,National World War II Memorial

Seven National Park workers were at the World War II Memorial early Wednesday morning to reinforce the barricades blocking visitors from the monument.

But that was the biggest show of force that the federal government mustered in the face of World War II vets breaching the gates again to visit the memorial.

The park workers used a forklift to position metal fences and stretched new yellow police tape to block entrances to the monument.

They also wired new signs to the gates warning visitors that it was closed due to the government shutdown.

As reporters trickled onto the scenes, the workers politely answered their questions, informing them that they were simply following orders.

One worker hanging signs abruptly noted that they would rather be mowing lawns and picking up litter than setting up gates.

When television cameras arrived, the group quickly left the scene and parked their forklift and truck away from the memorial.

Members of Congress, protestors, spectators, and members of the media crowded around the gates, waiting for the "Honor Flight" group of veterans to arrive.

Two park rangers on the scene were swarmed by journalists. One of the rangers, Carol Johnson, took questions from the media, saying she and her colleague were ordered by the White House Office of Management and Budget to close the site.

"We are not seeking confrontation," she said, as reporters asked them if they would arrest the World War II veterans if they crossed the gates again.

Johnson said the park was closed and they hoped that visitors would respect the barriers that they had set up.

As the World War II veterans breached the gates, however, the park rangers were on the other side of the monument.

At that point, Johnson took to Twitter to announce that the veterans were being allowed to enter the memorial.

"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the World War II memorial to conduct First Amendment activity in accordance with national park service regulations, applicable to the National Memorial and the National Park." she said.

Johnson explained that she and her colleague were exempted from the National Park Service furlough to monitor the situation at the memorial.

"I was going to get off yesterday, but they asked me to stay a little bit longer," she said, noting that she would probably not be working again until the government resumes full operations.

"Hopefully it will be happening soon," she said. "Otherwise, I'm going to be out there with a cup."

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