JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds of veterans gathered at the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. today to protest the government shutdown, while about 200 local veterans added their voices to the protest.
The shutdown has closed off access to the federally-funded memorials built in the veterans honor and many have been escorted out of the memorials during the shutdown.
A group of veterans gathered in Jacksonville Sunday morning at the Veterans Memorial wall outside Everbank Field to express their support for a reversal of the government shutdown.
Around 200 veterans and family members gathered early Sunday morning beside the wall of names of Jacksonville veterans who gave their lives for his country.
Those attending are heartbroken that veterans are being turned away from the memorials built in their honor because of the government shutdown.
Charlene Vandiver spent the last week organizing this local event.
" When I heard that we had veterans being escorted out of their memorials , I cried. It broke my heart," said Vandiver. " And then it made me really, really angry. These men and these women , they have already fought , they have paid the price , who is anybody to tell them they can't go on their memorials. "
Laura Gilvery of Palm Coast, daughter of a Vietnam veteran was at the rally with her son Jack and her sister . Gilvery was in Washington last week and saw three Vietnam veterans escorted out of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They had removed the barriers to go inside and pay tribute to their band of brothers.
" Just devastating to watch it take place, very frustrating ," said Gilvery. "Frustrating to be there and can't imagine even having to be the police woman who had to escort them out and be put in that position. I mean to get up in the morning and have to go to work and know that that is your duty that day is unfair to her even."
Veteran Norb Logsdon stated, " These guys were turned away because of politics, because of politicians, because of little mealy mouthed...urrgh!!!"
Numerous veterans and family members spoke out during the rally, saying this dispute between political parties is hurting the American people. Among those getting a big dose of applause and appreciation was World War II veteran Devere Pyatte who will be 86-years-old next week.
" I think we are being let down in every way that I could possibly state. It brings tears to my eyes. I am here to show my support to these veterans being turned away"
Pyatte said he took an oath to uphold the Constitution, the same oath politicians took when they took office. He said he was expected to honor his, which he did, but he says the politicians aren't.
The ceremony ended with the playing of taps, a ceremony that seemed like an impromptu Memorial Day tribute. Many of those speaking spoke of remembering those who gave their lives for this country.
First Coast News