MARC CHASE: Vets' admission to monuments paid in blood

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Vets' admission to monuments paid in bloodMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
October 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

If you lock someone out after he or she already paid admission, an angry protest is sure to follow.

In a way, that's what we saw over the weekend in Washington, D.C. -- but in a so much more important way.

Thousands of veterans toppled barricades at the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and other temples of patriotic sacrifice in our nation's capital Sunday in protest of this ridiculous government shutdown.

We've also seen it in the groups of hikers, campers and other National Parks enthusiasts who have crossed barricades in recent weeks, refusing to allow a shutdown fueled by childish political one-upmanship to keep them off the land their tax dollars and citizenship have purchased.

But what the veterans did in a Sunday march on Washington resonates in a far more powerful manner.

Our veterans have paid for all of us to access these monuments through more than just tax dollars. They've done so by putting their lives on the line in the name of country, charging up hills or storming beaches in a driving rain of lead. So many have paid in blood.

Griffith Clerk-Treasurer George Jerome is one of those veterans, a Marine who served in the Vietnam War.

George was among the scores of vets who pulled down barricades at some of our nation's key monuments Sunday. It was a worthy act of peaceful, civil disobedience -- something upon which so many important things in our country have been founded.

I know George, and I've seen him irked before -- usually when he thinks taxpayers are getting hosed by political scams. But the federal government shutdown leading to barricades in front of these monuments made him angrier than most Lake County flim-flam scams ever could.

Not far from the World War II and Lincoln memorials where George and other veterans gathered in protest is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial -- commonly referred to as "the Wall."

George has friends whose names are inscribed in stone on that wall -- men who died for the very government whose players have hijacked all of us in this shutdown and debt ceiling debacle.

In addition to facing off with U.S. Park Police -- who, to their credit, respectfully stepped back and allowed the vets to protest -- George took time to visit the wall.

He found the name of his class of 1966 Griffith High School classmate Dave Bryant inscribed there. Bryant paid with his life in a war that wasn't exactly embraced by the populace at the time.

George was protesting with men like Bryant in mind.

He and countless other veterans question whether the government is spending more time and money putting up barricades than dealing with the root of the diseases plaguing Washington.

We have relied so often on the bravery of our military men and women to keep our nation safe -- to protect our interests with their lives. Perhaps now we should look to them again -- this time for wisdom.

We all should be demanding the removal of such barricades -- both the physical ones from in front of our monuments and the figurative ones prohibiting civil discourse and compromise in our government.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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