Nightly News   |  October 01, 2013

WWII vets rise above shutdown politics

During a pilgrimage to the World War II memorial, men in their 80s and 90s arrived on the National Mall to discover they were locked out, due to the government shutdown. But, in a rare bipartisan agreement among the elected officials present, the gates to the memorial were opened and the men stepped inside. NBC’s Harry Smith reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, of course, everybody is entitled to their own opinion of congress, the president, and this government shutdown . no one is anxious to see innocent victims suffer because of a political fight. and yet, that is almost what happened today on the washington mall , remember, officially, the mall is shut down. but telling that to men who were boys when they went off to fight for this country. tonight, more on the story.

>> reporter: as happens most days, buses arrived at the national mall today full of world war ii veterans, men and women in their 80s and 90s, here to see the monument erected in their honor. but because of the government shutdown , access to it was cut off.

>> you know, my dad was a world war ii veteran.

>> this is just one day.

>> reporter: these vets came on a long planned and hard to cancel flight, all were disappointed to be locked out and few were interested in having their plight hurt for political purposes.

>> are you disappointed what congress has done?

>> that is something else, if you don't want to get involved in a political thing, what do you say?

>> reporter: he put this trip together for their father months ago.

>> i don't know if we'll get back or not, that is the problem.

>> reporter: there is rare bipartisan agreement among the elected officials present that closing this open air memorial was not a good idea. eventually the gates were moved and the gates came through. park officers stood aside, they were not about to stop those who stormed the beaches of normandy and fought through island after island in the pacific. harry smith , nbc news.