Families unable to observe Memorial Day at Fort Leavenworth due to tightened security

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- New procedures at Fort Leavenworth caused some people to miss the Memorial Day observance.

Military bases across the country have been advised by the Department of Justice to step up security when allowing the public on base.

Unless you have a military ID, you can no longer get in the front gate without making a pit stop first. It is the first busy day that new procedures at Fort Leavenworth have been tested, and most people who we talked with are giving the process an “F”.

"My dad Grady Wayne is buried over there, my grandson buried over there. Been coming here for over 40 years to that cemetery, I have never, ever been turned around like this," sayd Marie Watson.

She and her family meet at Ft. Leavenworth every Memorial Day to honor their loved ones by placing flowers at their graves, including her father, who served in World War II.

"He didn't volunteer to go there, my dad was drafted it's three little kids and had to go to fight that war and my mom was left to raise us while he was gone and we can't even get in there. That hurts."

Mary Wayne is the 94-year-old matriarch of the family. She says each year she looks forward to Memorial Day at Fort Leavenworth, but missed it this year because of the two-hour wait to be cleared to enter the base.

Wayne says "I don't feel like we should have to go through all of this," and feels insulted having to go through the new security screening."

"My personal thoughts on it, is we apologize. We want them to be here. The post is open to the public, but if you will just show up a little bit earlier in the future,” said Jeff Wingo, the public affairs officer for Fort Leavenworth.

He says the extra background check done in a little white trailer called the visitor control center is to weed out people wanted by the law.

Nationwide we had experienced heightened security measures over the last few weeks, and we hope people understand that people understand that there are going to be waits that are uncomfortable."

Sandra Campbell is the only member of the Wayne family who has a military ID. She says it wasn’t just her family that missed the ceremony.

"We got all the way to the cemetery to my dad's grave and there were hardly any cars. Ususally there are a trail of cars parked on either side of road."

"It's stupid I mean they could have done it a lot easier and simpler and not had a whole room full of pissed off people," says Patrick Coffman, who was told the wait would be son long that he should go have lunch and come back.

It is a much different process than Debbie Gunning is used to at the front gate.

"The police officers go through your car and stuff, they check your ID's and everything else. I mean it was so smooth going through there this is taking too long." She comes here every year to visit the graves of her father and daughter, and had a several hour wait to get in."

Many people saying they were not aware of the new procedure, which is on the Ft. Leavenworth website, if you poke around enough, or know where to look, three page clicks in.

Officials say before big days like Memorial Day, you can come a few days early to get this pass, if you don't, be prepared for a wait.