Chicago-area WWII veterans get into memorial

Chicago-area World War II veterans didn't encounter many hurdles getting into the war's national memorial in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, even though the monument technically is closed as part of the partial government shutdown.

“They got in there. There was no question about it,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who was on hand to greet the veterans along with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and other members of the Illinois delegation.

More than 90 veterans from Chicago and the suburbs left Midway Airport early Wednesday to take a long-planned Honor Flight, a program intended to help people who fought in the war see the large, open-air memorial dedicated to their service.

Some of the veterans joked they were ready to storm barricades, but volunteers only had to remove a banner to gain access.

Though getting into the memorial was no problem, the nearby restroom facilities were locked because of the shutdown, said Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield.

On the first day of the federal government shutdown Tuesday, barricades slowed the entry of a group of veterans from Mississippi.

Because of the first group of veterans' troubles, the memorial has quickly become a symbol for the government shutdown and how far-reaching its effects can be.

“These soldiers gave everything in fighting for our freedom and the thought that they would not be allowed into their memorial because of the partisan divide in Washington is beyond the pale,” Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, said in a statement.

Some of the veterans took the politics in stride.

“My feeling today, one person wants to win all. In the past, both sides of the aisle would come together. They should be reminded of what they were sent here to do,” veteran Johnye Scigousky said.

ŸABC7 contributed to this report

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World War II veteran Gus Nicholas of Glendale Heights is pushed by Navy Petty Officer First Class Lee Hoffman on Wednesday as they visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Nicholas came to Washington on an Honor Flight despite the shutdown of the federal government. Associated Press
Chicago-area veterans on an Honor Flight didn’t have trouble getting into the national World War II memorial today, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said. Daily Herald File photo
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton shakes hands with World War II Navy veteran Hank Sidof Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Photo Courtesy of Peter Roskam
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park greets World War II veterans Wednesday at the war’s national memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Mark Kirk
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