Thousands Protest Closures During 'Million Vet March'

Protesters broke through memorial barricades.

ByABC News
October 13, 2013, 3:10 PM

Oct. 13, 2013 — -- Thousands of protesters descended on Washington D.C. today to protest the closure of national war memorials as a result of the government shutdown.

The protesters broke through barricades at the World War II memorial today as part of the "Million Vet March." The memorial has been closed since Oct. 1, when the shutdown began.

Although the "Million Vet March" centered around the World War II memorial on the National Mall, the organizers' website advocated smaller protests at local memorials across the country.

As they took apart barricades protesters chanted "Tear down these walls," in addition to singing patriotic songs such as "God Bless America."

"The shutting down of these memorials, if one looks at right and wrong, that's clearly wrong," Bruce Wing, who traveled from Atlanta with his wife to support the veterans, told ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington D.C.

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George Rathmell, who spent 20 years as an Army chaplain, said military personnel should be recognized for what they endure during their service.

"Whether it's peacetime or war, our people do so much. The military's done so much," he said. "The scars, many of them never heal. Even if they're not on the outside, they're on the inside."

A few high profile political figures also appeared at the rally including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential candidate.

"Let me ask a simple question," Cruz told the crowd. "Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?"

The march organizers, however, tried to keep partisan politics out of the protest.

In a Facebook post for the protest, organizers said all elected officials -- and the people who voted them into office -- were to blame for the shutdown.

"We, as Americans, voted everyone of our elected officials into office. We are ALL responsible for this mess," the statement said. "It is up to us, as Americans to correct this mess."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.