National Mall monuments and memorials reopen
Updated: October 17, 2013 - 06:42 pm
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Barricades will no longer keep the world from experiencing our nation's capital.
"This is your memorial, so smile like you mean it," said Jerry Graf, a volunteer with one of the honor flights, which arrived Thursday and allowed dozens of veterans to visit the memorials on the National Mall.
Ron DeLain, 82, was with Graf.
For the Korean War veteran, it was a treat to visit the memorials a day before his 83rd birthday.
Delain, a Green Bay, Wis., resident, had no shame in criticizing our nation's leaders for the amount of time it took to reopen the government.
"Three weeks ago it was about time. We're thankful it turned out the way it did. It could have been so much worse," DeLain said.
"How do you put barricades up for the people who gave us freedom? How do you that? I don't know how they have a conscious to even allow that to happen. It blows me away," Graf said.
Bob McCann and Adrian Norton got off a second bus packed with World War II veterans.
"Straight ahead the Atlantic, you have all four sides...this is gorgeous," McCann said while walking with Norton.
It was the first time for the World War II veterans from the Pittsburgh area.
"[I've] lways wanted to see these memorials," 87-year-old McCann said.
According to the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service lost more than $7 million while the federal government was closed for 16 days.
It's money they'll likely never recover.
"There is no reason it should have ever closed in the first place. No reason," McCann said. "We can't blame anybody for the people that are in the government in Washington because who put them there? You and I."
Canadian couple Becky and John Fuller were about to walk inside the National Museum of American History.
"It was very frustrating on a very personal level, being selfish, because we planned this for a while," Becky Fuller said.
The couple had bought tickets for the Redskins and Ravens games in case the shutdown continued, but timing was on their side.