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Syracuse Honor Flight volunteers tear down government road block, cross barrier

Shutdown won’t deter local veterans’ visit to DC memorials

Volunteers and vets with Honor Flight Syracuse tore down a roadblock at the Iwo Jima Memorial during their trip to Washington on Saturday, Oct. 5, refusing to let a government shutdown bar them from visiting monuments to their military comrades.

Volunteers and vets with Honor Flight Syracuse tore down a roadblock at the Iwo Jima Memorial during their trip to Washington on Saturday, Oct. 5, refusing to let a government shutdown bar them from visiting monuments to their military comrades. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— “Abraham Lincoln was a good man. He stopped all that nonsense about separating the races, and so did [President Harry ] Truman,” Bova said. “We’d have all died invading Japan if Truman hadn’t of dropped the bomb. Lincoln was a good man, and that’s why I wanted to see him.”

Sarah Johnston, a Navy vet from Syracuse who was with Bova at the Lincoln Memorial, said it was an exciting moment. “He moved the barricade and said, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ I was excited because I really wanted to go up there.”

Bova said he went up to see Lincoln and started talking with a congressman from Minnesota who went up there as well. “I talked to him and said, ‘Why don’t you settle this?” Bova said he told the congressman the Affordable Care Act — typically called “Obamacare” — was created by an elected president and elected Congress, and they should let the people have it and deal with the consequences rather than shut down the government over funding it. “He said the people didn’t want it.”

As Bova came down the Lincoln Memorial steps he saw the responding law enforcement officers coming up to make everyone up there leave. There were about two dozen capitol police and SWAT officers on foot, and six mounted horse patrol solders standing their mounts at the bottom of the steps.

“I said to the police, ‘What are you doing? We came all this way. They wouldn’t answer,” Bova said.

When the Honor Flight buses arrived at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, the entry road was blocked by two wooden saw-horse barricades and two plastic traffic barriers filled with water. The three Honor Flight buses stopped, the drivers and trip volunteers poured out of the buses to remove them. The water-filled barriers were too heavy to move, so the volunteers poured the water out then moved the barriers aside to the cheers and amazement of the rest of the Honor Flight participants. The buses then drove up to the memorial’s parking area, followed by cars and other tour buses. There were no government employees or law enforcement personnel at the memorial.

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