WASHINGTON - A group of 92 Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight Veterans refused to let a government shutdown stop them from entering the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., this morning.
Though the memorial was technically closed due to the government shutdown that went into effect early this morning, they managed to enter the memorial and tour the site.
Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in interviews that the gates were opened for the veterans to access the memorial.
The vets were taking part in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight that was originally established in 2011 to help fly the state's WWII veterans to Washington D.C., free of charge, and provide tours so that they may see the memorials dedicated to honor their service.
The veterans arrived at Reagan National Airport around 10 a.m. They were scheduled to witness a bag-pipe procession and wreath-laying ceremony at the WWII memorial before departing to tour the Lincoln, the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, the Iwo Jima Monument and Arlington National Cemetery.
In a letter to the president, released Sept. 30, Congressman Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., requested that the monument remain open to the public:
"It would be truly devastating to our veterans that travel great lengths to share this experience with family and friends and see a piece of their own history," he wrote. "I request that you immediately instruct the Department of Interior and National Service to ensure that veterans are not denied access to monuments on the National Mall in the case of a government shutdown. It is the very least we can do for our Greatest Generation who sacrificed so much on behalf of our country."