It was only a few days ago that park police, acting on the orders of the Obama administration, tried to deny World War II veterans the opportunity to visit the national memorial built in their honor. I noted that this was no surprise, since during sequestration word was sent out to make Americans feel the pain: “However you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be,” was the takeaway quote at the time.
Now, the Obama administration has even approved of an attempt to shut down Mount Vernon — even though it is privately owned.
The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Yes, it is disgusting.
A few years ago I was the Program Coordinator for The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. For each class that went through, I had the pleasure of putting together a trip to Mount Vernon. A funny thing happened: it never got old. The estate is beautifully maintained, filled with history and an absolute must for anyone who loves learning about the history of the United States. I could go to Mount Vernon every year and still enjoy it because it is a pure honor and joy to stand on the ground once treaded upon by one of the greatest men to ever live.
Going to Mount Vernon is just as moving as going to the Capitol to view Jonathan Trumbull’s depiction of General Washington resigning his commission. If you’re not familiar with just how critical this moment in history was for the nation, I suggest reading up on it. Washington could have held on to ultimate power — like so many military men before him who were placed in similar situations — but he willfully gave it up for the good of country. He walked away. Just the thought of brings me to the verge of tears, as it did years ago when I was an intern for Congressman Peter Roskam. I used to give Capitol tours to constituents and other visitors, and I always stopped for just a few moments longer to take in Trumbull’s work.
The cause for the government “shut down” can be debated endlessly, but what is not up for debate is the despicable behavior of the Obama administration, which has gone out of its way to inflict pain on the American people. Instead of simply “shutting down,” the White House has put out marching orders to agencies to be proactive in their approach. They are finding creative ways to make Americans feel the affects of the shutdown, and for that they should be held in utter contempt.
If you’ve never been to Mount Vernon, please make the trip if you’re ever in the area. If you ever have disposable income you’re looking to donate to charity, think about the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. It would be a shame if such a culturally important location ever came under the complete control over bureaucratic goons who would fence off the National World War II Memorial or close the parking lot leading up to our first president’s estate.