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.
•ABC7 contributed to this report