WASHINGTON - They're in! Ninety local veterans were able to get inside the World War II monument in Washington, D.C., despite the partial government shutdown.
Wednesday, officials in D.C. installed extra barricades around the federal monuments in our nation's capital, but Missouri and Kansas lawmakers were able to help the veterans get inside.
Representatives Claire McKaskill, Jerry Moran and Lynn Jenkins were among the lawmakers who escorted the veterans.
Many of the veterans have waited for this day for a full year, and Wednesday morning they stated there was no way the government shutdown would keep them from seeing the monument built in their honor.
Photos tweeted by a Scripps photographer at the memorial show the veterans waiting anxiously outside the gates -- some with signs demanding entry. Other photos show the men and women making their way inside, and finally, a large group of veterans singing Amazing Grace by a fountain inside the monument.
The Heartland Honor Flight Organization raised $80,000 to send the veterans free of charge to D.C., and this was the biggest honor flight in the organization's history.
The veterans we spoke with said this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"I was a little shocked when I heard the news that the government shut down the facilities, the parks and so forth. I wondered what that meant and I wasn't sure, but when I heard about the response of our congressmen to make sure that happened, it was wonderful news," said Don Owen, a Kansas City area veteran.
Earl Hines chimed in, "They should close down what they need to close down, but with these amazing memorials that the public use, they shouldn't bar people from seeing them. They just don't need to do it."
Another honor flight is set to leave Kansas City for Washington D.C. on Oct. 8.