The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday.
Palazzo helped the veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service Tuesday, when the heroes stormed through barricades around the closed memorial. (Related: WWII vets storm closed memorial as GOP congressman reportedly distracts cops)
The veterans were visiting the memorial as part of Honor Flight, a non-profit that provides veterans free transport to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials to the wars they fought in.
“We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” Palazzo told TheDC. “We were denied and told, ‘It’s a government shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.”
Palazzo’s office was in touch with the heads of the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Capitol Police. He says all these officials rejected his request to allow the veterans, many of whom are octogenarians and some of whom are in poor health, to attend.
Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran who has participated in all five of the Honor Flights, blames the White House for making it harder on veterans and playing politics. “At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight,” Palazzo told The Daily Caller, “but having talked with the officials I can’t help but think this was politically motivated. Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials, are planned a year in advance and cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation’s veterans?”
In a statement, Palazzo noted that he is introducing legislation to ensure that all Honor Flights are granted access this week. “This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24/7 access to under normal circumstances — even when Park Service personnel aren’t present,” Palazzo said in the statement. “It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their Memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue.”