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Federal government shutdown: World War II veterans visit monument again

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - They did it again.

World War II veterans once again gathered Wednesday at their monument. Photo: Hatzel Vela

For the second straight day, police officers stepped aside as World War II veterans visited the monument erected in their honor.

The National Mall memorial, along with several others that define Washington's tributes to America's fallen, is officially closed during the government shutdown due to a lack of appropriations for the National Park Service.

However, on Wednesday, the National Park Service said the veterans would be given access to the memorial "to conduct 1st Amendment actives in accordance with NPS regulations."

The NPS closure didn't stop yet another group of vets from Missouri from moving toward and eventually through the gates of the shuttered monument.

Veteran Don Mueller took it all in.

"[The memorial] represents all the wars that we fought for and freedom [for] our country..."

When asked about the shutdown, an emotional Mueller said, "... nothing should be closed. This is the United States that I fought for. I fought for open everything and Congress should work for the people. It's a do-nothing Congress."

Korean War veteran Bill Wrinkle visited Washington for the first time Wednesday. He says he's seen photos of the nation's capital, but it's not the same for someone like him coming from a small town of 7,500.

"Can't hardly believe it, you know?" he says.

Dianne Anderson, of Grand Rapids, Mich., watched the scene from outside the memorial.

"I'm just here to show my appreciation and shake their hands," she says. "Our military is our life blood and these men are our life blood and for our freedoms and [the memorials] should always remain open regardless of what goes on behind the walls of Congress."

On Tuesday, just hours after the shutdown, a pair of Congressmen met dozens of Mississippi veterans at the monument as they were visiting on an Honor Flight.

After a brief delay, the gates were opened, allowing more than 90 vets to visit and take photos at the monument.

"(I've) wanted to come ever since they opened," veteran John Murphy, 93, said. "It's an honor to be here."

Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was one of the members of Congress who helped the veterans access the monument, said that not allowing the veterans to visit despite the shutdown "would not have been a happy picture."

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