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Barriers Breached At World War II Memorial On Mall

A crowd gathers at the World War II Memorial to call for reopening national memorials closed by the government shutdown. The rally drew support from military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans.

A crowd gathers at the World War II Memorial for a rally calling for ending the government shutdown and reopening national memorials.

A crowd calls for an end to the government shutdown and the reopening of national memorials, at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

A crowd of demonstrators converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning, protesting the government shutdown that has included blocking full access to monuments in Washington.

The "Million Vet March," protest was organized by groups including the Brats for Veterans Advocacy, which called on military veterans and others to march against the barricading of the memorial, which its website calls "a despicable act of cowardice."

The site also invited "everyone who thinks enough is enough" to attend. In addition to veterans, most of the rally's support seems to have come from Tea Party activists and Republicans.

Those present at the start of the event Sunday morning included Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, according to Washington's WTOP Radio. The station's Jamie Forzato reported seeing a "huge crowd" of thousands of people.

For NPR'S Newscast unit, Allison Keyes reports:

"Organizers say they want to protest what they call the Obama administration's decision to close the memorial and bar entry to World War II vets who have traveled to Washington.

"Belinda Bee, the organizer of 2 Million Bikers to D.C., said in a statement, 'These are men in their 80s and 90s. They can't come back next month or next year.'

"Meantime, an advocacy group called Vote Vets is attacking Republicans for the shutdown in a new ad.

"Groups of veterans from Ohio to Mississippi have been trying to get into the memorial with limited success since the National Park Service closed it off for the shutdown.

"Some park rangers have allowed veterans onto the site despite the barricades."

Those present Sunday also reportedly included Chris Cox, the South Carolina man who made headlines last week for his efforts to spruce up the National Mall, including the grounds of several monuments. He had explained his actions by saying he didn't want the veterans to see the national monuments in a dilapidated condition.

The demonstration briefly moved from the World War II Memorial to the nearby Lincoln Memorial, and some protesters walked to the area around the White House, according to WUSA TV.

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

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