Montana Veterans Going to Visit D.C. Memorial Despite Federal Shutdown
The Big Sky Honor Flight is scheduled to take 86 Montana veterans of World War II and their companions to see the memorial constructed in their honor on October 13 and October 14. However, because federal employees are in charge of maintaining the memorial, there is uncertainty over whether or not the soldiers will be granted access because of the government shutdown.
Vice Chair of the Big Sky Honor Flight Bill Kennedy said the vets are going no matter what.
"The memorial is for these World War II veterans," Kennedy said. "Congress may not have a timeline for making their decisions, but we do. We've got the flight scheduled to go, we've got the plane set, we've got the hotels and the buses and all of that. We're going to go, and if we can't enter the memorial, that's a sad day in this country."
On Tuesday, October 1, an honor flight group went through federal barricades to view the memorial, Kennedy said he has assurances Montana's honor flight wont' have to do the same thing.
"We have been told by the park police that they will not deny access to our World War II veterans to the memorial," Kennedy said. "We've always had an escort by the park police. We're not sure if that's going to take place or not because of the shutdown, but the park police are letting the World War II veterans in."
Over 500 Montana vets have already visited the WWII memorial on trips paid for by charitable contributions to the Big Sky Honor Flight. With an average age of around 93, Kennedy said the veterans that the Big Sky Honor Flight serves cannot wait for the shutdown to finish because “time is of the essence.”