The nation once again owes the heroes of World War II a debt of gratitude. The veterans who stormed the barricades that the federal government tried to erect around the WWII memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. reminded us that they fought and died not for their government, but their country. That government might shut down, but the United States–and the freedoms we enjoy–precede it, and endure, regardless.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Obama administration tried to use the veterans as pawns in their propaganda campaign against Republicans, hoping that their suffering would evoke public anger against the GOP. Not only did the Obama administration deny permission for the veterans to visit, not only did they threaten the veterans with arrest, but they also recalled “shut down” Park Police to set up the fences.
That exemplifies the cynicism of President Barack Obama’s approach to the crisis. It took a shutdown for him even to meet with Republican lawmakers, and for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to begin the most basic negotiations. But their approach has backfired. Not only have the failures of the Obamacare rollout shown how inefficient government is, but the WWII veterans have now shown how cruel–and superfluous–it is as well.
In doing so, they have reminded Americans that beyond the political posturing of either party in Washington, beyond attempts to pander to various segments of the electorate and the media, there were–and are–men and women who really did ask what they could do for their country. Governments come and go, but the ideals of the Constitution are transcendent. And true public service goes on even when Public Services are closed.