WASHINGTON (CNN) - Busloads of World War II veterans, many in wheelchairs, broke past a barricade Tuesday morning to cross into the World War II Memorial, as onlookers applauded and a man playing the bagpipes led the way.
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The National Park Service closed all of its parks, including national memorials, as a result of the federal government shutdown that went into effect at 12:01 a.m ET. But a spokeswoman from the National Mall and Parks Service said efforts were no longer being made to hold anyone back.
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"These are important visitors," she told reporters, adding that they're seeking guidance from the director's office on "where we go next." "Obviously we did not want to do anything to mar the trip of these people," she said, saying the visitors came from Mississippi and Iowa. "They've come here specifically to see the memorial that was built for them."
Most of the veterans who arrived at the World War II Memorial came courtesy of nonprofit programs, including Honor Flight Network, that transport the aging men and women to Washington.
Johnson, the spokeswoman for the National Mall and Parks, said the memorial hosts Honor Flight visitors every day. "We want to make sure that they have a good time and are enjoying the memorial, but legally, the National Mall and the memorial are closed," she said.
Asked if she was off the clock and volunteering her time, Johnson replied: "Apparently so."
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