When the government shutdown began, the National Park Service was ordered by the White House (via the Office of Management and Budget) to close the open air memorials of the National Mall, leading to showdowns between tourists and the National Park Police. The most popular site of protest has been the World War II Memorial, where an Honor Flight of veterans tore down the barricade with the aid of Representative Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.) and his staff on Tuesday.
The barricade was re-erected, and is now covered in signs announcing the memorial’s closure and adorned with a yellow police line, but enough space stands between the barricade and the memorial wall that dozens of tourists slipped through to honor the sacrifices made in WWII.
When asked whether the memorial was closed, a Capitol Police officer said yes. After a glance at the memorial filled with people, he said, “It’s a slippery slope. If you're exercising your First Amendment rights you can be here.”
A National Park Police officer even moved the barricade aside to allow a group of veterans to pass through.
A WWII veteran was wheeled past the barricade to see for the very first time the memorial made in honor of him and his fellow servicemen. It’s a shame that political theater prevented him from seeing it earlier this week on his 89th birthday as he had originally planned and from viewing it with the full beauty its flowing fountains normally provide.