Memorials should always remain open

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dear Editor,

We should all be able to agree that whatever the political disagreements in Washington, respect for our veterans should remain above the fray.

There was a widely reported incident at the World War II Memorial where, because of federal funding being interrupted, Honor Flight veterans were initially denied entry to the monument built in gratitude for their brave service.

Fortunately, the situation was resolved favorably and it was a privilege for me to have the opportunity to escort elderly veterans through the memorial. The National Park Service has since worked with Honor Flight groups to ensure that veterans on these special visits are able to tour the memorial and receive any mobility assistance they may require.

But there should be a permanent protocol ensuring that the open-air monuments, which are such an iconic part of our national heritage and identity – the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the many monuments along the National Mall, to name a few – are accessible to visitors under all circumstances.

A visit to a memorial or the U.S. Capitol is one of the most cherished memories that a visitor can bring home from Washington and certainly there should be a nonpartisan resolve to ensure that no one – above all, an honored veteran – is denied what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus

Sixth District of Alabama