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Chicago veterans not shut out by shutdown

World War II veterans from Chicago arepose for group phowhile visiting World War II Memorial WashingtWednesday Oct. 2 2013. This

World War II veterans from the Chicago area pose for a group photo while visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. This group of veterans came to Washington for the day just to see the memorial. It was an act of civil disobedience that marked the fact some barriers nor a government shutdown would keep a group of World War II veterans from visiting the monument erected in their honor. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Updated: November 4, 2013 12:25PM

WASHINGTON — A group of about 90 elderly veterans flew here from Chicago’s Midway Airport on Wednesday and visited the National World War II Memorial — shutdown be darned.

On Tuesday, the memorial on the National Mall became the symbol of the shutdown as vets who arrived on what are called “Honor Flights” ignored the barricades set up to try to shutter the outdoor tribute to the 16 million who served in World War II.

The National Park Service, faced with horrible publicity — especially at a facility hard to really close because it is outdoors — by Wednesday relented, and a spokesman said in a statement that vets arriving from Honor Flights are being “granted access” on the basis of First Amendment rights.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), whose district includes Midway, said Southwest Airlines donated the flights for the day trip.

“Denying these veterans, as well as their friends and family, access to the memorial and ruining their day because of the bickering and gridlock in Washington would have been unconscionable,” Lipinski said in a statement.

Besides Lipinski, also visiting with the Illinois vets were Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Randy Hultgren, Mike Quigley, Peter Roskam and Bill Foster.

Lynn Sweet

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