Rich Galen
Anyone old enough to remember Viet Nam can remember how the country felt toward the man and women who were sent to Southeast Asia to prosecute that war. They were treated like [as this is a family column] garbage.

We have discussed before how, in the National Guard during those days, it was suggested that we wear civilian clothes to and from drills.

Of all the dumb things the federal government has done during this partial shut down was to have shut down national parks, and national monuments. Some of the national monuments that have been shut down are the memorials to war dead in Washington, DC.

We have, within walking distance from one another, memorials to the Korean and Viet Nam wars and the World War II Memorial.

These three are crucial because there are still men and women alive who fought in those wars. There are no living veterans of World War I.

VE - Victory in Europe Day - was May 8, 1945; Japan signed the surrender documents ending the war in the Pacific on September 2, 1945.

An American who might have sneaked into the service at, say, 15 years of age would be 83 today. We're quickly running out of WWII veterans. In fact, the Veterans Administration says that these men and women are dying at the rate of 640 per day; so those that want to visit the memorial to their war are running out of time.

There is a program known as "Honor Flights" that began in 2005 as a small program to fly some WWII vets to Washington to visit the World War II Memorial.

The program has grown to the point that, according to this month there are flights scheduled for 25 out of the 31 available days.

That's why, when President Barack Obama shut down the war memorials - especially in Washington, DC and especially the WW II memorial, it struck such a chord both with those who have served under arms and those who, as Will Rogers once put it, have "stood on the curb and clapped as they've gone by."

I would love to say that Barack Obama didn't know that part of the shutdown of national parks would involve these memorials. But I don't think that's true.

Mr. Obama shut down White House tours when the Sequester began to demonstrate, in the most public possible manner, the effects of that activity. I am willing to be proved wrong, but I believe that the President knew full well the National Park Service would be shutting off access to America's most sacred monuments along the National Mall.

On October 1, the first day of the new fiscal year and the first day of the shutdown, ABC News reported:

"A group of 92 Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight Veterans refused to let a government shutdown stop them from entering the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., this morning."

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at