I was down at the World War II Memorial on Wednesday morning, like Betsy Woodruff, and it was clear the “closure” of the open-air memorial could not and would not be enforced. At one point, there were a group of non-veterans (at least they weren’t there on Honor Flights) gathered in front of the barricades on 17th Street, where a wide-open plaza leads down to the memorial. I just pushed one of the barricades open and we all went in. When I later tried to exit the same way, a park ranger was standing there trying to prevent people from crossing. I asked “Will I be arrested if I move this barricade?”, she replied in pained tones, “No, we just hope you’ll honor the closure.” I didn’t honor it and moved the gate aside and left.
And that’s the point. The barricades are theatrical props in the Obama White House’s attempt to show what meanies the Rethuglicans are. But the administration isn’t willing to enforce the barricades, because any arrest of a non-threatening visitor — let alone an elderly veteran — attempting to visit an open-air monument would be politically catastrophic. The only police officer I saw in the vicinity of the WWII Memorial was off to the side on the access road where the tour buses stop, making sure people didn’t park illegally — they were nowhere to be seen around the memorial itself, and with good reason.
In other words, ignore the barricades. The Honor Flight veterans and others did that at the Vietnam and Korean Memorials as well, and so should everyone else. Call the president’s bluff; if a park ranger or officer says you can’t pass, ask politely and non-confrontationally whether passing would lead to your arrest. If the answer’s no, then calmly pass through. If the answer’s yes, then calmly submit yourself for arrest — and make sure someone lets NRO know.