A group of local veterans were thrust into the national spotlight and a media circus this week and, collectively, they spoke for the nation regarding the government shutdown.
The Franklin County Honor Flight was among four veterans groups from across the nation that had scheduled trips to the World War II and other memorials in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
There was a question whether they would actually be granted access to the memorials because of the shutdown.
But a day that began with uncertainties about visiting the memorials turned out to be a banner occasion for the veterans from this area. They received wide media coverage. Other people just came to the memorials in a show of support.
The display of support and anger at the federal government’s actions in trying to close the memorials reinforced in the minds of the veterans that they are appreciated for their military services. That was clear from their comments.
National Park Service employees were among those laid off because Congress has not approved spending bills. Most of the memorials and monuments are under the control of the Park Service. When the World War II memorial was closed Tuesday, veterans and others went around the barricades. There was such an outcry about the barricades, the Park Service relented and opened the memorials.
There are proposals right and left for funding to keep the memorials open. One thing appears certain. Whatever happens, the veterans are not going to be denied an opportunity to see the memorials.
To block off war memorials in Washington, D.C., to veterans who came to view them through Honor Flights from across the country was as stupid as things get in our nation’s capital.
The barricades were removed Wednesday in time for our local veterans to visit, most for the first time, the memorials that pay tribute to their service.
Jim Tayon, president of Franklin County Honor Flight, who has made many of the trips to Washington, D.C., with veterans, told The Missourian “It was the best day of my life.”
He said that because of the support shown to the veterans on Wednesday. Tayon is an Air Force veteran.
In a show of support for the veterans Wednesday, members of Congress were among the well-wishers at the World War II memorial to greet the men and women who fought in this country’s wars.
There was an outpouring of patriotism at the memorials. There also was an outpouring of common sense from our local veterans who were interviewed.
Almost to a person, the veterans expressed their frustration with Congress and the president over the shutdown. They implored our elected officials to work out their differences so this kind of nonsense doesn’t go on any longer. They spoke plainly but forcefully about the need for compromise. We didn’t hear any finger-pointing about one party or the other. Rather, we heard comments that the American people deserved better from those who were sent to Washington on their behalf.
We just wish the president and Congress would listen.