WWII veterans from IL visit memorial in Washington during government shutdown

October 2, 2013 8:48:00 PM PDT
For many Illinois veterans, their first view of the World War II Memorial in Washington involved removing a barrier to enter the closed monument.

The veterans returned home to throngs of supporters at Midway Airport around 9 p.m. on Wednesday night with their mission accomplished. The World War II vets traveled on an Honor Flight to see the memorial, and the partial government shutdown did not stop their one-day journey.

"It was easy, we just do what we always do in a war-- move it aside!" said Gerry Goldman, World War II veteran.

Their day started at Midway before sunrise, where there was talk that the shutdown might impact their trip.

l "Yes, this is ridiculous some of it, that we have these things that impede anybody's right to go see things," said Joe Surridge, World War II veteran.

But once they landed, the barrier was quickly removed.

The monument, like national parks and other federally-run entities, was closed Wednesday due to the government shutdown. The shutdown is in its second day- and doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon.

"When you look at the politics of the House, I think it looks more like two weeks," Republican Senator Mark Kirk said. He and Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley, both of Illinois, met the World War II veterans at the memorial.

"What's holding us up is just 30 members," Congressman Quigley said. "It's not the tail wagging the dog, it's the tip of the tail wagging the body politic. . . I think we'll be in a worse spot in a week from now as we get closer to the debt ceiling. It'll be worse. They are not just threatening to shut down the country, they are shutting down the economy."

Though some politicians had suggested the veterans, most of whom are now in their 90s, might have to storm barricades. Instead they only had to remove a banner.

The 91 veterans from Illinois left from Chicago's Midway Airport early Wednesday morning. They joined with veterans from three other states on Wednesday. Most didn't let politics detract from their visit to the monument.

"My feeling today, one person wants to win all. In the past, both sides of the aisle would come together. They should be reminded of what they were sent here to do," Johnye Scigousky, veteran, said.

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