Honor Flight to World War II Memorial in jeopardy due to shutdown
In and around the Glass City, effects of the government shutdown can be seen at our museums, monuments, and national parks. The gates are closed and locked, denying access completely to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Transportation Safety Administration employees were still working at Toledo Express Airport on Monday, but when WNWO called the TSA to find out if they would be affected, there was a message that said the public relations representative did not have access to her voicemail or email due to the government shutdown.
A letter from Rep. Marcy Kaptur's (D-OH 9) office reads,"...only services deemed essential for the safety of human life and protection of property will be continued."
Yet, for a group of World War II veterans visiting the national memorial in Washington D.C., an all expense paid trip which is called an "Honor Flight," the shutdown was not stopping them from seeing the tribute that was inspired by them.
"It just goes to show you why we won World War II," says Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio President Lee Armstrong.
Many elderly veterans, some in wheelchairs, broke through the barriers set up around the memorial, as police, park service employees, and tourists looked on. "The Germans and the Japanese couldn't contain us. They weren't going to let barriers contain them today. They wanted to see their memorial," says Armstrong.
Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio has a trip scheduled to depart from Toledo next Wednesday, October 9.
"We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule," Armstrong explains.
He says they are considering going ahead with the trip even if the government is still on shutdown, but when he called the parks service, he was told they would face arrest. "I said, are you kidding me? You're going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn't for them it wouldn't be there. She said, 'That's correct sir.'"
When Armstrong asked for her name, he says she did not give it to him and then promptly hung up the phone.
99% of veterans on Honor Flights have never had the opportunity to see the memorial that is devoted to their service.
Through October, the are over 35,000 veterans scheduled to visit the site, more than 900 in the next five days alone.
It may all be waiting in limbo if the government can't complete their job.