With the National Mall and its magnificent monuments closed, the World War II Memorial has regrettably become a flashpoint, used for political gain by Republicans attempting to indict President Obama for blocking veterans’ access to their memorials. Throughout all this, I’ve been reminded of something my grandfather, a decorated World War II veteran, often said–something he might want to point out to Republicans if he were alive today.
Despite our urging and several opportunities to do so, my grandfather never had much interest in making the trip to visit the WWII Memorial once it opened in 2004. Why? Despite his service in World War II, he insisted the monument wasn’t there for him. It was there for the guys who never made it back home.
The memorial may be there for all those who served, but the sacrifice of those who died in action–those who will never have the opportunity to visit the memorial–is greater than those who survived the war. Honoring and attempting to repay our veterans requires more than simply allowing them access to a memorial. It requires true support: family death benefits, proper health care, education, and other assistance–all vital programs Republicans have shamelessly curbed or sought to cut during the government shutdown.