ETX congressman ensures veterans see WWII memorial during shutdo - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

ETX congressman ensures veterans see WWII memorial during shutdown

(KLTV) -

National parks and memorial sites are included in the list of places that closed as soon as the government shutdown went into effect. But today, a group of Republican congressman, including East Texas' own Louie Gohmert, literally broke through the police  barriers to escort some World War II veterans into the WWII Memorial in D.C.

This is a trip that Taylor Hemness knows well. "A couple of years ago, I was able to travel to D.C. with the Brookshires flight, where the grocery company takes East Texas veterans from WWII on a free trip to the nation's capital, specifically to see the memorial that is dedicated to them," Hemness says.

This morning, a similar group was there to see the memorial, and some members of Congress made sure they weren't turned away.

Tour buses pulled up to the WWII memorial Tuesday morning and were greeted by iron gates and police tape. But that barricade didn't hold up for long.

A group of Republican congressman actually moved the gates and tape out of the way and escorted all those vets inside.

The idea came from Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo. East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert told us today that it started with an e-mail.

"He sent out an e-mail that the WWII Memorial had been blocked off, and he had a couple of buses of WWII veterans ... actually had 91 here. And could some of us come down and help him with the veterans," Gohmert said.

Gohmert says there were about eight congressman and a senator there to escort the veterans around.

He told us he was surprised at the security at the memorial site, saying, "Normally they say it takes four of them to watch over the memorial when it's open. Well there were four of them out there!"

While they were there with the 91 veterans from Mississippi, another pair of tour buses showed up from Iowa. They got the same treatment.

Next week, Brookshire's Grocery Company is set to take another group of more than thirty East Texas veterans to the nation's capital. They're already making calls to see what they'll be able to do if the shutdown is still in effect.

"Still plan to do the tour of the Capitol; we've also been in contact with Arlington National Cemetery, and they've confirmed that we'll be able to see the changing of the guard when the veterans are there, and we have every intention of going to the WWII Memorial."

But Gohmert told us today that if needed, he's already gathering members of Congress to help him take the East Texas group through those same barriers.

"I've got commitments from a lot of members of Congress; if we have the same problem, they're going to be there for our East Texans to make sure they get to see it, as well."

In addition to getting help from other members of Congress to see the memorial, Congressman Gohmert also told us that he has verbal commitments from other members of Congress to make sure the East Texas veterans get to take their national trip through the capital.

Taylor Hemness will again be fortunate enough to be going on that trip with the veterans from East Texas, so if the shutdown is still in effect, we'll get to see firsthand how many members of Congress are there to help.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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