Early mornings are my favorite time of day, always have been. The house is quiet, that first cup of coffee is strong and delicious, and I can leisurely read the news, and assimilate whatever is happening at home and abroad. It is a peaceful time where I can think, plan, study, and evaluate how I am doing on my journey. Few things can jolt me out of my predawn reverie anymore, but the first article I read today, accompanied by photos, was a mule kick to the chest.
There they were, approximately two hundred World War II veterans from Iowa and Mississippi, some ambulatory, some in wheelchairs; all present at the World War II Memorial, barricaded and prevented from entering. By the time the story reached the West Coast, the report was they had pushed through the barriers, and police were on the way. As details of the event unfolded, it became evident there were some politicians of conscience present who helped the vets by moving barricades aside, and escorting them past the barriers and park service police so they could visit their memorial.
And of all the questions one might ask at such a time as this, the one that springs to the top of the list is why was the memorial blocked off in the first place? It is an open-air memorial situated on 7.4 acres with unencumbered access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It was no secret these veterans were coming to Washington. Their Honor Flight had been planned well in advance of today’s political debacle; these flights paid for by private contribution, costing between $80,000-$100,000. There was nothing the vets needed but to have access to a memorial they and their comrades in arms paid for with that which was dearer than any issue or contention being purported by anyone in either the House or the Senate, Democrat or Republican.
The Freedom Wall on the west side of the memorial has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall is the message, “Here we mark the price of freedom”. Yes, I believe every one of those veterans’ entry into the memorial has been paid in full, and rather than falling all over themselves politically preening and posturing with rhetoric and physical barricades, there should be a collective apology issued to those whose service to this country has been insulted and denigrated.
If that never happens, and if your last service to our nation is that incredibly brave act of civil disobedience, I, for one, salute you, offer a heartfelt apology on our government’s behalf, and thank you all for what you have done and for the light you still are to the rest of us. I always will remember this day and your courage; it is good to know there still are heroes among us.