Closed WWII Memorial: Visiting Vets 'Deserve Better'

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WASHINGTON -- The government shutdown has turned into a potential legal showdown, revolving around the closing of the World War II Memorial in Washington.

The American Center for Law and Justice says if the Obama administration won't re-open the memorial, it will be "obligated to file a federal lawsuit" requesting an injunction.

Like many of Washington's main tourist sites, the WWII Memorial has been closed since Monday when lawmakers couldn't come up with a compromise to keep funding the government.

Meanwhile, for the past six months, Eugene Morgan, 96, had been waiting for his first visit to the nation's capital. The World War II vet served in the Pacific and survived fierce fighting along Guadalcanal.

Like most vets, Morgan won't offer much more details.

"Well, I can just say I was there," he chuckled. 

He traveled with his son, Jeff, all the way from West Memphis, Ark., to see the memorial and ran into many grateful Americans, young and old alike.

"I'm thankful for all the people of America," Morgan said. "Especially those that prayed for us during the WWII."

But the trip was nearly ruined. They, along with nearly 120 veterans from Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, found the memorial barricaded and blocked to public access.

Sarah Makin is a volunteer with Honor Flight Network, a non-profit that flies WWII vets into Washington to see their memorial.

"They got up at 3 a.m., got on a plane from wherever they're coming from, and to land here and come to their memorial and see barricades is unacceptable," Makin said. "It chokes me up. They deserve better than that."

On Tuesday, lawmakers from both parties greeted the vets and opened up the memorial so folks like Eugene could get up close and personal.

That cooperation, however, hasn't spilled over to resolving the budget.

"We're going to sign this letter to Speaker Boehner asking that we have a vote on a clean funding resolution immediately so that government functioning can resume and Americans can move on with their lives," Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded, speaking at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

On the other side of the aisle, meeting the vets served as a reminder that this is a fight over the country's fiscal future.

"I visited with several of the veterans from Kansas this morning and they have told me to stand firm," Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan, said. "We're fighting to save this country from certain fiscal disaster if we continue down this path."

The impasse leaves Eugene's son frustrated.

"My father and many others sacrificed time, their lives in a lot of cases, and it's just sad to see America cannot even work together."

Still, Jeff's grateful his dad got to see the tribute to the greatest generation for himself.

"He's a wonderful man, a great father, a great man and loves the Lord and loves the American people," Jeff said. "He would gladly serve today if he could."

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