KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 80 veterans are headed to Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight even though national parks and memorials are closed due to the government shutdown.
“We understand it’s going to be a little bit harder for us than the group that went in yesterday,” said John Doole with Heartland Honor Flight. “We will be a beacon of exposure and everyone will be looking at us today. So it could go either way.
Doole said Heartland Honor Flight is determined to provide aging World War II veterans the opportunity to see national momuments made in their honor.
“We plan on going through the barricades unless we are forcefully stopped,” Doole said. “For some of these gentlemen, this is the only time they’ve been to D.C., they’re not going to have the opportunity to come back, so this will be their only time to see the memorial, so it’s critical they go there today.”
The veterans — once brave in battle — remained courageous on Wednesday, vowing to make the trek to D.C. regardless of the government shutdown. When asked how they were going to visit the World War II Memorial when it’s closed, Ian Drake, a WWII veteran, didn’t hesitate to respond.
“Find a way in, one way or another,” he said. “We might have to climb or something. It’s no problem. Well work it out when we get there.”
Another WWII veteran, Pete Keezer, agreed.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to storm the barricades, wouldn’t be allowed too, but this is a tough group of guys so don’t screw with them,” he said.
Drake said he thinks that after going through all the trouble of traveling — and the trip already being paid for — someone will let them into the memorial. He explained why he’s so determined to go.
“A lot of my old comrades were lost in World War II,” he said. “Eighteen of 100 in my graduating class were lost in World War II, so it’s important for me to show my respect at the memorial.”
As for Keezer, he said he’s disappointed in the government shutdown, which has put Honor Flight trips in jeopardy.
“We just hate to see these things occur,” Keezer said. “But we have principles and everyone stands by their principles, and I think we’ve got to get the politicians to start thinking about the people and not their own selfish interests.”