For many of our veterans, The Never Forgotten Honor Flight is the most important mission they will ever fly. It gives them a chance to share long lost memories and heal from the wounds of war. But as the government remains shutdown so do the monuments built to honor them.
It's a familiar sight in our Nation's capital, barricades, police tape and closed signs. But Tuesday, the World War II memorial became a sign of the Nation's frustration as 91 veterans from Mississippi crossed the barricades to tour the monument built in their honor.
In less than three weeks, more than 90 local veterans are scheduled to make this very same trip on the 14th mission of The Never Forgotten Honor Flight.
"Nationally the Honor Flight network has scheduled 3,500 vets to fly in the month of October," Never Forgotten Honor Flight Co-Founder Mike Thompson tells NewsChannel 7. "There would have been an awful lot of disappointed veterans if they got to their memorial and they could not see it."
Jim Campbell, the other co-founder of The Never Forgotten Honor Flight, says his initial reaction after hearing the news was one of disgust and anger.
"Is there no common sense at all that they would shutdown memorials that were built with private funding and that represent what a generation of men and women did to save the free world, literally save the free world," Campbell says frustrated. "They're going to barricade those memorials so these men and women who are in their 80's and 90's can't visit them?"
That was something Campbell and Thompson both say they would not stand for, even after being told they would be considered trespassers if they ignored the barricades.
"I believe if we would have been there yesterday or the day before, without any direction from Honor Flight personnel, I think they would have gotten off the buses and did exactly what the Honor Flights from Mississippi and Iowa did," Campbell chuckles.
Luckily, there won't be a need.
"With a special permit we're going to be able to see all of the memorials except Iwo Jima," Thompson explains.
Although Thompson and Campbell are happy our local vets will see the World War II, Korea and Vietnam memorials an important piece of the puzzle will still be missing, the grateful public.
"They thank them for their service. They ask them if they can have their picture taken with them. So that part, that experience, which is one of the veterans favorite parts of the day, they will not be able to experience at some of the memorials because it will be closed to the public," Campbell says.
The Republican National Committee is offering to pay for security expenses so the World War I memorial can remain open for visitors.
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