World War II veterans attend the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, following the National Park Service opening the site for them following the government shutdown. (Image Source: Reuters)
This week, Republicans and media figures on the right attempt to spin the government shutdown in some way that makes them look like the victim of a campaign against that mean old Islamic socialist fascist Kenyan usurper, President Barack Obama. They found something to latch onto very quickly: A bunch of World War II veterans were denied access to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., due to the National Park Service closing and all monuments and parks closing. Quickly, the right wing pounced, painting the "greatest generation" as victims of Obama's refusal to kill, you know, the one signature piece of legislation that is key to his entire presidency in order to keep the government. Republican lawmakers, particularly Representative Randy Neugebauer of Texas, even forced a confrontation with the National Park Service, gaining a victory when rangers allowed the vets in on First Amendment grounds. To exploit surviving World War II veterans like this, however, insults the work they had done to preserve the nation, and merely shows how shameless the right wing media has become.
A little explanation: As with most every national park, the National World War II Memorial regularly receives large groups of people to visit, with these groups booking weeks or months in advance. These 500 or so World War II veterans, based from nursing homes, were told they were going to the memorial at some point in the last year or so. The veterans, brought by non-profit Honor Flight (which brings vets to these memorials on a regular basis) probably went thinking it would be open, since it is a memorial and is not necessarily a place one would have to close off. It is quite understandable that these veterans would be angry to come all this way only to be shown away because of the government shutdown.
But for the Republicans to seize on this is sickening. Granted, there is the notion that the previous shutdown in 1995 and 1996 did not include national parks and memorials among those closed. But even still, the notion that these Republicans used this unfortunate situation to force a confrontation with the National Park Service, all because of something that was essentially their fault, is utterly shameless and dismissive to the deeds of veterans, all for some stupid political gain that does not benefit anyone but themselves. Even though they
My grandfather served on the Army Air Force in World War II. He guided B-17s over Nazi Germany as a navigator. His cousin, another close family relative of mine who only passed last year, did the same over the Pacific, attacking various Imperial Japanese fortifications. My own father, however briefly, served as well. While they were political at times, they were their own men. They would not want their service to be used as the rallying cry for some irrelevant political agenda.
Radio host Mark Levin and Representative Randy Neugebauer have never spent a day in uniform. The hell do they know about sacrifice or service? The very idea probably scares the two. They could kiss the feet of veterans and grovel at them every day, but that does not instantly give them the privilege of speaking for them. And that these veterans are old just makes their efforts to represent them even more disgusting. It's a disgrace to those who have fought, and those who live today as veterans.