With the Government Shutdown behind us, national parks and monuments are back open, including the World War II Memorial in Washington. And some of the first to visit the memorial since the shutdown are veterans from the Capital Region. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, shutdown or no shutdown, these service men weren't letting any barricades get in the way of their trip.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A total of 31 World War II Veterans were welcomed with cheers as they arrived one by one with their families at the Albany International Airport.
"I can't get over everyone shaking your hand," said a veteran to a reporter.
It was a send off fit for heroes. Local officials, veterans themselves, were at the airport to bid farewell.
"As a veteran myself, I cannot express my gratitude for the inspiration we get from our veterans," said Congressman Gibson.
Bill Bowes said, "It gets tears into my eyes. It's nice, very nice."
Though World War II ended nearly 70 years ago, Saturday's Honor Flight was the first chance many of these veterans got to visit the memorial in our Nation's Capital.
"I'm so excited. I can't believe it, I never expected this." said Bowes.
And until earlier this week, no one else knew what to expect either. Like many national monuments, the memorial had been closed due to the government shutdown.
Assemblyman Pete Lopez said, "Our veterans are critical for our safety, our security, our future, and to deny them access to a monument, please."
Thankfully, as the government re-opened, so did the memorial. But even if it hadn't, these service men weren't planning to cancel their trip down memory lane.
"I think we would have made it anyway," said one veteran.
And county leaders used the opportunity to plea to the government, never to let a shutdown deny veterans of this praise again.
Dan McCoy said, "Why don't you sponsor a resolution that if this shutdown does happen again on January 15th, or in the future, that they can't shut down war memorials."
Because you're denying the freedom these men fought for.