SPOKANE, Wash. – Family of Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker was denied access to the White House’s West Wing on Saturday, a day after the World War II hero was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Baker’s widow, Heidy, and grandson, Vernon Pawlik, 10, were denied entry because the boy was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. His shirt had a picture of his grandfather on it.
A White House Web site doesn’t list a dress code, but the family had been invited to tour the West Wing, which houses the president’s office and where casual dress is prohibited.
U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick’s office says he’s contacted the White House to express his disappointment.
Vernon Baker, of St. Maries, Idaho, was the last living black World War II Medal of Honor winner.
The White House didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
A strict dress code for employees in the West Wing makes sense — a dress code for the folks who pay their salaries, folks who were invited for a tour, does not. Besides, restaurants with dress codes have a couple of ties and jackets stowed away in a closet for just such incidents — the White House couldn’t find the kid some khakis?
This is just another in a long line of PR miscues by the White House that started with a bargain-rack pack of DVDs for Gordon Brown. It is really saying something that their protocol staff can be as bad as — even worse than — their policy staff.
UPDATE: An “unfortunate misunderstanding.”