Several Republican members of Congress removed barricades from the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday and escorted veterans onto the grounds that were legally closed because of the government shutdown.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told reporters at the scene she was going for a morning walk when she heard that World War II veterans were being stopped from entering their own memorial.
“I ran over as quick as I could … and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Bachmann said. “There were all these veterans standing here behind police tape and they are prevented from going in to see the memorial.”
“About maybe eight to 12 of us members, one member had a scissor cut the tape and then we just escorted the veterans in,” she continued. “You should have seen these veterans. They had smiles from ear to ear. They were thrilled.”
National Parks Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said she was unsure how the government would deal with situation going forward.
“We are seeking guidance,” Johnson told reporters at the scene.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was one of the members to escort the veterans into the grounds, suggested he and other members of Congress would be at the memorial every day to let veterans in.
“I will be active as I need to be in supporting the access to our memorials with our veterans,” he told reporters on a conference call.
One witness told TheBlaze the veterans were excited to gain entry onto the grounds.
“They were really touched,” California resident Jennifer Mason said. “I think they felt really honored.”
The veterans were visiting the memorial as part of the Honor Flight program which pays for veterans to visit the nation’s capital and seeing the memorials.
Fred Martin, a Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War, told TheBlaze he felt like he has been “robbed” of his trip to D.C. which he had planned for nearly a year.
Martin expressed gratitude towards the members of Congress who allowed veterans to enter the memorial.
“Whatever party they are in, whoever they are — thank you,” said Martin. “We were told we were only going to be able to see it from the outside and it’s really nice to be in here and think about all those that gave their lives and sacrificed.”
“This is all open,” he added. “You have to have security around anyway, so why not just let people walk around?”
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