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What Shutdown? WWII Vets Ignore Barricades To See Memorial

A World War II veteran visits the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

A World War II veteran visits the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Tuesday.

Perhaps Congress can take a hint from these gentlemen:

The men in red shirts are World War II veterans, who traveled from Mississippi as part of an Honor Flight tour, which has been flying veterans to the National World War II Memorial in Washington since 2005, a year after the memorial opened.

Today, however, when the veterans arrived at the National Mall, the memorial was encased in metal barricades -- a casualty of the government shutdown.

But as Leo Shane III of Stars and Stripes reports, with the help of some Congress members and their staff, who distracted police and brought down the barricades, the veterans made their way into the memorial, as tourists cheered.

"This just means so much to me," Alex "Lou" Pitalo, an Army vet, told Stars and Stripes. "I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping. ... I'm just so happy. This was amazing."

The (Biloxi-Gulfport) Sun Herald has video of the moment:

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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