GULFPORT, Miss. (WALA) -
Some 70 years after they fought for the United States in the Second World War, Veterans from Mississippi and Iowa were barricaded out of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October 1.
The government shutdown has called for a close to all non-essential federal entities, including all national parks and monuments.
The shutdown comes after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on government spending Monday night, September 30.
Some 90 veterans took off Tuesday morning from the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on an honor flight to visit the memorial.
Although they were told the open-air monument was closed, National Park Service officials eventually let the veterans through and tour the monument.
Around 125 veterans on all-expense-paid Honor Flights in total were able to view the monument Tuesday.
While visiting the monument, veterans called the government shutdown a terrible shame.
"We certainly feel real bad about that, and we're having kind of hard time, as you can witness here today, all of us World War II veterans looking at our memorials, understanding some things, there's something heart-warming and heart-breaking about it, and we hope they can get things worked out," said World War II Navy Veteran Rayford Edgar.
All national monuments and parks will be closed while the federal government is shutdown.
The veterans arrived around 7:40 Tuesday night at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
They received a huge, warm-welcome from hundreds of supporters and military servicemen at the airport.
A band was playing patriotic music, local high school cheerleaders were cheering, and members of the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Navy were there to salute the veterans.
Local firefighters even created an arch with water for the plane to enter through as it taxied down the runway.
Veterans told FOX10 News that the return was incredible and unexpected.
"I didn't expect it," said Honor Flight Veteran Joe Cleveland. "But it's heartwarming to know we have the support that we do. I really appreciate it."
The veterans said they were thrilled to have a chance to finally see the monument.
"Everybody was so happy," said John Murphy, another Honor Flight Veteran. "We got to see something we've been waiting to see for a whole bunch of years."
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