BY DAYNA WORCHEL, firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the federal government shutdown, which began Tuesday, some World War II veterans from Tyler will still get to fly to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10 for a planned two-day Heroes Flight trip to visit the National World War II Memorial.
“Our trip is still on,” Brookshire Grocery Co. Public Relations Director Rebecca Sanders said on Tuesday. The company has sponsored the flights taking the World War II-era veterans for the past several years.
About 30 Tyler World War II veterans along with some media representatives and Brooks hire officials will make the trip this time to see the U.S. Capital, Arlington National Cemetery and the National World War II Memorial monument. They will return on Oct. 12.
“Our trip planner has been in touch with (U.S. Rep. Louie) Gohmert’s office ... and our intention is to see the World War II memorial,” Ms. Sanders said.
According to the Honor Flight Network, 3,560 veterans are scheduled to visit Washington on Honor Flight trips during the month of October, according to information provided from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s office. Five of these flights will bring veterans from Texas.
Similar to Brookshire’s Heroes Flight program, the Honor Flight Network brings groups of World War II veterans from across the country for free to visit the memorial built in their honor on an almost daily basis.
Cornyn released a statement on Tuesday talking about the bravery of the World War II veterans and saying, “men of this caliber should never receive this kind of treatment in the nation’s capital.” Cornyn call- ed on President Barack Obama and Congress to pass an appropriations bill to allow the memorials and monuments to stay open.
Members of Congress escorted dozens of veterans who were barricaded outside of the closed National World War II Memorial because of the government shutdown past barriers Tuesday so they could see the monument, according to The Associated Press.
More than 125 veterans from Mississippi and Iowa arrived for a previously scheduled visit to the memorial Tuesday morning to find it barricaded by the National Park Service. Several members of Congress escorted them inside after cutting police tape and moving barriers that blocked the memorial.
John Kleinschmidt, 87, of Ames, Iowa, said the barriers were opened just enough for his group to walk through freely by the time he arrived. Kleinschmidt trained as a flight engineer during World War II but was never deployed abroad.
“It’s unfortunate that this is what happens when they know that there are busloads of veterans coming down here, and they don’t have the good sense to say keep the damn thing open,” he said. “These are the guys that created it.”
National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said park rangers enjoy greeting the veterans. The memorial was closed, she said, because of an order to close all park service grounds to protect the sites and keep visitors safe while more than 300 workers are furloughed.
“This is not something the park service wanted to do. We’d like to get back to work,” Ms. Johnson said.
Charles Ricketts, a veteran from Ames, Iowa, blamed Congress, not the National Park Service, for nearly ruining his group’s trip.
“I’m not impressed with Congress’ ability or the president,” he said. “They’re not showing us much leadership and judgment. It’s all political.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.