We are just as frustrated and outraged as many of America's veterans over the closure of war memorials in the nation's capital, as a result of the federal government's partial shutdown. As a matter of fact, we have lobbied Congress, issued press releases, written letters, contacted the president, and even held a press conference Oct. 4 at the World War II Memorial – which had been closed and barricaded.
At that press conference, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger faulted the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and President Obama for failing to keep the government running at full capacity.
Regarding the other memorials, I personally accompanied our executive director and director of veteran affairs and rehabilitation to other war memorials in Washington to assess what was going on; all of the memorials were barricaded. We took pictures, and actually helped visitors bypass the barriers to all of the memorials, including those for the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The Legion's national staff has been intimately involved in making sure these national remembrances will be reopened. This is a stain on our history and The American Legion is making your voice known on Capitol Hill and around the nation.
The reason we used the World War II Memorial for the press conference is because it was already a hot issue in the media and we wanted to capitalize on that coverage.
We are holding another press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the war memorial in Indianapolis, the home of our national headquarters, to bring our message to more Americans that our federal government is putting millions of veterans and their families at risk. We have been sending this message nonstop, along with our fellow veterans service organizations.
I hope my answer helps to let you know that the American Legion is, indeed, fighting tooth and nail every day to end this senseless shutdown, so we can all get back to work doing what we do best, working for you.
Louis J. Celli, Jr.
Director, National Legislative Division