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.

The Heritage Foundation Mount Vernon Fall 2011
A picture of the last intern class I took to Mount Vernon, Oct. 2011.

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 painting General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull is on display in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. This painting depicts the scene on December 23, 1783, in the Maryland State House in Annapolis when George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The action was significant for establishing civilian authority over the military, a fundamental principle of American democracy. (Image: aoc.gov)
The painting General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull is on display in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. This painting depicts the scene on December 23, 1783, in the Maryland State House in Annapolis when George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The action was significant for establishing civilian authority over the military, a fundamental principle of American democracy. (Image: aoc.gov)

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.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

17 comments

  1. How is it he even has legal authority for these actions? Executive privilege? It’s totally illegal and should be added to the list of impeachable offenses committed by this puppet president.

    1. I think I read that the feds own part of the road/parking lot (there really isn’t a parking lot … I can’t explain it) leading up to the estate. Close the little road way, and you totally mess up people trying to visit the estate, which is privately owned.

  2. Well done. If they can shut down Mt. Vernon, regardless, imagine what they’ll do to healthcare. The woman in charge said”Yea, we’re pissed!”. And they care nothing for the animals either.

    1. Thanks for the read and comment, bullright. I agree, handing over 1/6 of the economy to these people — so they could control health care, no less — was an extremely bad idea.

  3. Nice article. I’m currently taking AP US History, and Washington’s Farewell Address was one of the the things we talked about in detail. Washington’s unprecedented resignation showed that he was a capable leader not because he could wield power, but because he could relinquish it. It was a truly moving act that really set forth the mold for executive government today.
    On another note, Washington’s Farewell Address warned the public of the dangers of the feuding between political parties. It seems ironic that that issue is what has gotten the US into its current predicament.

    1. Thanks for reading, Zach. Yes, there aren’t really any true statesmen left. There are few people who seem to really embody the best traits of our founding fathers. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

      I know it sounds weird, but I think television has a lot to do with it. Everyone is always mugging for the camera. When the cameras are on, the impulse to act like a tough guy (or gal) comes out.

      Chris Plante was joking the other day that we should bring back duels to get politicians back in line… I couldn’t help but laugh. 🙂

    2. Honestly, I don’t watch much television, although I do tune in occasionally to watch pro and college basketball and football. I can see where you’re going though, politicians most likely act more dishonestly while on camera, if acting dishonestly to a greater degree is even possible for a politician.

      If you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend reading Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis. It explores the interactions between the founding fathers in great detail and at a very personal level. It’s a great read and really imparts readers with the sense that the creation of our nation was truly a phenomenon.

      Coincidentally, the first chapter of the novel details the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton that led to greater efforts in the young nation to outlaw dueling. Boy, the prospect of the politicians of today dueling is funny… if not a bit disconcerting in its truth.

    3. “wars should be fought in a giant stadium by world leaders armed with socks filled with horse manure” — W. C. Fields

    4. Heh.. Obama would insist that he had too much swagger to fight with an undignified thing such as a sock… before being knocked out by Bashar Assad.

    5. I’ve always wanted to go to Mount Vernon, but I never made it to Virginia the two times I vacationed on the East Coast (2003 and 2007). Maybe someday, though.

    6. I find it amusing how they shut down parks and the such during this whole imbroglio, because apparently you need the government in order to go for a hike through the woods. Who knew?

      Also, did you hear that grocery stores on Army bases have been shut down, but the golf course at Andrews AFB (where Obama plays golf) is still open? Try to wrap your head around that one.

    7. And the Amber Alert hotline was temporarily shut down, but Michelle Obama’s website stayed on line. Prison guards are not receiving paychecks, but the inmates still are. And Barack won’t stop illegal immigrants from entering the US, but he puts up barricades to stop American citizens (including war veterans) from visiting outdoor memorials. Of course, it costs more to barricade the sites than it would to leave them open.

    8. Good points, Tom. It’s pathetic that Amber Alert was shut down but Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” sit was kept up? Lame. Not to mention that I find her “get fit” program to be ridiculous, because I don’t think obesity is the sort of thing the government should get involved with. Losing weight and staying fit is up to the individual, but that’s another story.

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