US Government Didn’t Have to Close the Monuments

In a recent release of public records, there is evidence that the Department of the Interior knew in advance that two groups of elderly veterans would be visiting the World War II memorial on October 1st, 2013. Despite this knowledge, they decided to barricade the premises anyway.

The National Review Online obtained emails stating the US National Park Service employees were also monitoring the news consistently for any negative media attention. The emails also show the government shutdown expectations were granted to National Park Service employees. The Obama administration tried to make a political mess out of the government shutdown by closing the national Mall and denying any access to monuments; however, the decision backfired when the veterans ignored the barricades and entered the WWII memorial. The veterans were participating in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight which was established in 2011 to help fly the state’s WWII veterans to Washington, DC to provide tours to monuments that are dedicated in their honor.

Obama told the American people that it was necessary to close the Mall and placed the blame on the Republicans for creating the hardships. The emails paint a different picture though. The emails revealed that the Department of Interior and National Park Service didn’t have to shut down the monuments, but they were closed to make a point.

On September 30th, Tom Buttry, a correspondent of Senator Tom Harkin’s office stated that it would actually be less costly to keep the mall open than to close it. The email states:

While I understand that these memorials have remained accessible to the public during past shutdowns (I’d imagine with the mall being so open, it’d probably [be] more manpower intensive to try to completely close them), I wanted to do my due diligence and make 100 percent sure that people could visit the outdoor memorials on the National Mall in the event of a shutdown.

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE