Diana West

More importantly, this was no bureaucratic snafu in which these long-scheduled visits were somehow overlooked. The Daily Caller reported that Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) asked the White House, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Capitol Police to ensure that the vets would have free access to the memorial. Palazzo was rejected everywhere. "We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes," Palazzo told The Daily Caller's Charles C. Johnson. "We were denied and told, 'It's a government shutdown, what do you expect?'"

Um, open access at the World War II Memorial to the people who both fought the war and built the site.

Once upon a lifetime ago, these seniors were "the boys of Pointe du Hoc." They took Iwo Jima, yard by bloody yard. They were Screaming Eagles, Pathfinders, Hellcats, all-American G.I.s who came by the hundreds, by the tens of thousands, from every farm town and big city in America to fight Nazism in Europe and Imperial Japan in the Pacific. Once, they could scale cliffs, jump from planes and earn medals. Now, seven decades later, they walk slowly or need wheelchairs, their navy blue ball caps emblazoned with the name of their naval ships or battle. Long ago, they earned our eternal gratitude and respect, and no government of any political stripe or party should ever forget it.

But this is exactly what the Obama White House and the Democratic Party have done. In producing political theatrics to depict the budget impasse over defunding socialized medicine (Obamacare) vs. funding the government as tea party-Ted-Cruz-engendered disappointment with penalties for all, they have abandoned even these very special Americans. It's unthinkable that any government would dishonor its veterans this way. It's not only that there was no need, no call to barricade the World War II Memorial. That a government would do such a thing shows it has no concept of what it means to be Americans with common bonds and a common past.

The way the Obama administration treats these men doesn't bode well for the rest of us. Meanwhile, who would have imagined that now, with their span nearly complete, these same men would have to stand for freedom one more time -- but this time against their own government?

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).