The last time veterans marched on Washington DC was May of 1932. They marched then for the cash bonus for their service during World War I. Most of the veterans had no problems with the stipulation given right after the war, that the pay wouldn’t actually touch their hands until some time in 1945. During the “Roaring Twenties”, the economy was good, life was rosy, and no one minded the wait.
On July 13, 1932, Brig. Gen. Pelham D. Glassford, superintendent of the Washington, D.C., police, asked a group of war veterans on the Capitol grounds to raise their hands if they had served in France and were 100 percent American.
Then the Great Depression hit. Things were no longer ‘rosy’ for the veterans and their families. That bonus money was needed for things like food and rent, electricity, and to pay the taxes on the family farm. 1945 was a long way off.
So they marched on DC. Set up camp in the city. Only to be ignored by Congress, and then forcibly evicted from the city by tanks and bayonet wielding active-duty soldiers, thanks to an order from Herbert Hoover, over-enthusiastically carried out by General Douglas MacArthur . No doubt hearing from Hoover and MacArthur that the majority of the men were Communists, Anarchists, criminals and general trouble-makers was the only reason those soldiers obeyed, driving the men and their families from the shanty-town that had been erected. Hungry, tired – defeated **, the men left the city in a slow parade of trucks. Without their bonus pay.
In 1932, a group of WWI veterans in Portland, Ore., rallied the Bonus Army to Washington to lobby for early payment of their promised bonuses. They set up camp along the Anacostia River that May. But by July, officials lost patience and went into the camp to evict the marchers. It turned violent. A soldier torched a tent, and the Army began torching everything still standing.
Fast forward to October 13, 2013. Veterans are again marching on Washington DC. This time, however, they’re marching for their right to have access to the war memorials within the city. Memorials that honor the fallen of the wars in which the US has been involved…for better, worse, or otherwise. They’re marching specifically for access to the World War II Memorial.
The World War II Memorial, located on the National Mall in Washington DC, is a beautiful place to visit and pay your respects to World War II veterans. The memorial opened to the public on April 29, 2004. The Memorial is an oval shape with two 43-foot arches, representing the war’s Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Fifty-six pillars represent the states, territories and the District of Columbia at the time of the World War II. Two sculpted bronze wreaths adorn each pillar. Small fountains sit at the bases of the two arches. Waterfalls surround a wall of 4,000 gold stars, each one represents 100 U.S. deaths in the war. More than two-thirds of the memorial consists of grass, plants and water. A circular garden, called the “Circle of Remembrance,” is enclosed by a two-foot-high stone wall.
The reason for this march is because a group of children…er…oops…Republican ‘leaders’ (and I use that word loosely!) have decided that because they can’t have their way, they would shut down the government. So shut it down, they did.
In shutting down the government, that action included shutting down the memorials to war veterans. Wait…what? The World War II memorial is open 24-hours per day, park rangers are on site from 9:30 am to 8 pm. So, if the memorial is open continuously, there’s no actual requirement for the park rangers to be on site 24-hours a day. Right? Right! So…why the hell are barricades being put up? Why are the men who fought for this country, who gave up more than just a bit of their souls for this country, being denied access to a memorial that was open 24-hours a day, and only ‘manned’ 10 ½ hours per day? Does this make sense to you?
It certainly doesn’t make sense to me! In fact, I find it a slap in the face to those veterans! It’s a political ploy. Being used by President Obama. Now, I happen to have voted for Obama. Twice. But I find this absolutely unacceptable. “Cherry-picking” which memorials to close and which can remain open is so obviously political that it stinks.
But let’s all take a deep breath here. What if…and this is just a theory, mind you…what if President Obama knew from the get-go that this would bring an incredible amount of attention to the whole government shutdown? Not just mutterings and complaints among those who suddenly find themselves on unpaid vacation. What if closing the WWII Memorial was a way of broadcasting to the entire nation…to the world…just what the result of a Republican temper tantrum looked like?
I can’t believe for one minute that a man as smart (dare I say ‘brilliant’?) as President Obama would think that the American people, veterans in particular, would take this calmly. I think he expected exactly what’s happening. Perhaps he’s even counting on those veterans to once again serve their country. By bringing to light what a childish, reprehensible act this government shutdown is. What a political move it is.
Oh sure, there will be those who will counter that Obama is merely ticked off because the Republicans won’t accept his Affordable Health Care Plan. Granted, the plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start to truly affordable healthcare for ALL Americans…not just those who can afford to pay for insurance premiums that rise on the whims of the insurance companies…and cover less with each cost increase. Had the idiots in DC worked on it rather than trying to get rid of it (last vote count to bring down what is now a law – 42) it would be a better plan. Probably a plan that everyone could get behind. Well, not so much the drug companies or insurance companies. After all, the limits being placed on them (which, by the way, are in place in every other country that has a national health care system!) will certainly put a damper on those triple and quadruple digit profits.
The facts of the matter are this: the Republicans don’t like the Affordable Health Care Plan. My theory is that their pharmaceutical and insurance company contributors are the well-paying voices behind this dissent. They are so determined to appease these corporate masters that they’ll do anything…anything…to bring the plan to ruin. Including shutting down the government. President Obama, as a result, chooses to close down the World War II Memorial, among others.
The result will be a march on the capitol city by veterans and their families, planned for October 13, 2013. It’s sure to be a media circus, with CNN and FoxNews spinning the story like crazy to fit their own agendas.