Veterans marched on Sunday in Washington in protest of the partial government shutdown that has kept them and other Americans from visiting war memorials across the country, with support from several star conservatives.
“This is the people's memorial,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told a crowd of several hundred gathered near the WWII Memorial on the closed National Mall, which has become a national symbol of the shutdown and the country’s response. “Simple question: Why is the federal government spending money to keep veterans out of the memorial? Why did they spend money to keep people out of Mount Vernon, Mount Rushmore? Our veterans should be above political games.”
Veterans, including many in wheelchairs, took down police barricades and entered the memorial at about midday as others took the protest to the edge of the White House South Lawn.
“Today somebody’s wife [or] husband is dead in Afghanistan. Is somebody going to pay her husband [or] his wife or their children?” one protester shouted at the White House, referring to the partial shutdown cutting off benefits for the survivors of military personnel.
Some of the metal barricades were carried the roughly half-mile walk from the memorial to the White House, where they were left near the fence in front of Pennsylvania Avenue.
A man was arrested at the event in connection with bringing at least one gun in a bag.
A witness named Jacob Reed told Fox News the man was standing in line to talk to Washington Republican Rep. David G. Reichert.
Reed said a police officer asked the man what he was doing, then asked him to take his bag off his back. The man complied and said the bag contained a bunch of firearms, at which point he was handcuffed and taken into custody.
Cruz was joined by 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on a gray, rainy day in the nation’s capital.
“Veterans have proven they are not timid. And we will not be timid in calling out anybody that uses the military as pawns,” Palin told the crowd assembled at the Million Vet March on Memorials. “We can only be America, home of the free, if we are America, home of the brave.”
Protesters shouting “U.S.A.” and “Tear down these walls” put the blame squarely on President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders.
“In a mean-spirited fit of selfish anger, Barack Obama has shut down our nation’s war memorials,” march organizers said in a press release. “And he has declared open war on our honored veterans. The World War II memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Obama has shut them all down to force his will on the House of Representatives and, frankly, to get revenge on the American people who oppose ObamaCare and his other naked power grabs.”