More than 100 Iowa veterans who served their country in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War thought they would have a once-in-a-lifetime trip when they took part in the Story County Freedom Flight to Washington, D.C.
Little did they know beforehand how memorable it would be.
The veterans left early Tuesday morning for their flight from the Des Moines International Airport not knowing how the federal government shutdown would affect their plans to visit the war memorials built in their honor in Washington, D.C.
When they arrived, they learned a fence blocked access to the memorials that had been closed due to the shutdown.
Vietnam War Veteran Phil Schendel said the veterans were determined they wouldn’t let the fences or the guards who stood by to watch them get in the way of their final destination. Schendel said, “There were people ready to go to jail. I’m not kidding you.”
As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.
Fourth District Republican Congressman Steve King wouldn’t say who devised a plan. He would admit to distracting a guard so other Republican congressmen could open a fence to let the veterans and their families inside the memorial grounds.
King expressed dismay that guards had tried to close off the grounds in the first place.
He questioned how if there was no money to staff the grounds, then how could there be money to pay for the guards to make sure no one came into the grounds.
King laid blame for the decision to close the memorial directly on President Obama. King said, “It will go down in history among and, perhaps, the most bitter, spiteful act ever committed by a commander in chief to lock World War II veterans out of the World War II memorial.”
Mr. Schendel told Channel 13 dozens of cameras followed their every move making these veterans decision to move past the barricades national news.