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April 5, 2014



World War II Heroes Denied From Their Own Memorial

  I meant to publish this blog at the time of the government shutdown in October 2013 but I was too infuriated and it was too emotional for me to suppress my anger and think clearly.  I thought I would let some time pass before I commented on the role of the Federal government in managing scarce resources during the budget crisis, particularly how they treated memorials to our fallen heroes.


World War II veterans came to Washington D.C. – some on Honor Flights with the help of donations from their neighbors and supporters or through their own personal expense – to see the memorial dedicated in their honor.  For many it was both the first and last trip they would make before they passed on.  They limped, staggered and were rolled up to the gates of the memorial and were faced with an obstacle more insidious than the ones they faced at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima and so many other battles in the War they won.  Not as dangerous to be sure but more gut wrenching and much more intimidating and disappointing that anything they could have faced at the point of a gun.  The National Park Service, under orders from the Administration, closed the World War II Memorial, and others, in response to the government shutdown.


But just like they did at Guadalcanal, Sicily and other contested beaches, they pushed their way through.  Good for them!!  Not so good for the country they saved.


These men are fragile, both physically and emotionally.  This visit was already too emotional for many of them.  To see Americans in uniform blocking them from their own privately funded memorial must have been devastating to each and every one of them.  Who in the White House could be so disgustingly insensitive to try to make political points with these men and women?  Vindictive and petty are the words that come to mind and a total disregard for the negative personal impact on these heroes who once put their lives on the line to win freedom for all of us.  It’s fairly obvious that the passage of time has not eroded my outrage.  Shame!! 


It would be nice to have a President who would have looked for ways to minimize the impact of a government shutdown rather than one who seemed bent on maximizing the pain and inconvenience.  After all, it was his office that decided where to spend the reduced resources of the National Parks Service and other “non-essential” agencies.  And they decided to close the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and the American Cemetery of Colville-sur-Mere overlooking Normandy Beach, among other high profile venues.  


Not to be political about this situation – and the Republican Party needs a great deal of introspection – but the Administration was running the show at the time.  The House was done!  They did their dirty work and refused to accept the Administration’s budget.  And when this situation called for a leader to ease the pain and suffering and minimize the damage, we got a petulant, pseudo-leader who made speeches, looked for ways to hurt the most people the hardest, blamed the other Party and sought political advantage. 


That has to be all too obvious to even his most ardent supporters.  I really have tried hard to avoid placing blame but the President or his minions called the shots on what to shut down and where to authorize critically needed expenditures.  And they chose to authorize National Park Service employees to go to work to close and block certain memorials!!   They certainly could have used those employees to keep the memorials open but choosing to spend the money to shut them down was obviously spiteful and pernicious.


I have never seen a more partisan political Administration in my lifetime and I have witnessed 11 Presidents endeavor to lead America and the free world.  They all had their strong points and weak areas and I didn’t agree with many of them on policy but this President appears willing to let his people suffer to gain what he perceives to be a political advantage.  I don’t think he is a bad guy but he certainly has surrounded himself with ideologues that value their philosophical agenda above all else.  And having no leadership or administrative experience, he is being taken for a ride by his so-called “inner-circle” experts. 


I wonder what it was like when Americans were free to walk through the forests or hike the Grand Canyon?  It must have been truly wonderful to live a life free from and heavy-handed Federal government and their ever-increasing intrusions on the lives and privacy of ordinary Americans.  The government has gotten so big and invasive that we are no longer allowed to do these simple things without their permission.  If this is not a frightening indication of which direction we are headed as a nation, then nothing is.


And I believe with all my heart that our World War II heroes fought and sacrificed to preserve something much nobler.  They earned and deserved better consideration than the government gave them during the shutdown.


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