An 87-year-old World War II veteran from Billings said he will risk being arrested if that’s what it takes to trespass into the barricaded National World War II Memorial.
“I don’t think it’s legal,” Stanley Dreyer said of the closed memorial. “I’d be really disgusted. … I might be on the side of mad.”
Dreyer served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 and has never seen the World War II Memorial, the national monument dedicated to all who served during that war.
He’s hoping his once-in-a-lifetime moment has arrived. He’s been on a waiting list of World War II veterans hoping to travel to the nation’s capital with Big Sky Honor Flight of Montana.
“I think it will be more exciting than I can even imagine,” Dreyer said.
Big Sky Honor Flight’s seventh tour to the World War II Memorial and other national monuments on Sunday and Monday coincides with a federal government shutdown. Popular sites like the Lincoln Memorial are heavily guarded and temporarily shuttered. Unsightly barricades block some visible aspects of the monument.
This tour includes 86 World War II veterans from throughout Montana, some of whom are terminally ill.
The shutdown, said Dreyer’s daughter, Coni, is ridiculous.“It’s disrespecting our veterans,” she said. “To have our veterans be part of a political tug-of-war is outrageous.”
Kenneth Finley, 89, of Billings, served in the U.S. Naval Air Corps and made sure he signed up for this trip. Some of his friends have already gone and he’s been counting the days until his turn. He is outraged to think there is even a possibility of not getting access to the memorial.
“It makes me angry,” Finley said. “If those politicians are stupid enough to close the memorials, we can be smart enough to figure out a way to do what we want.”