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October 3, 2013

Opinion: Contrived 'shutdown' nothing more than an insult to us all

Regardless of how one feels about political motives behind the federal budget standoff, some aspects of the government “shutdown” are plainly ludicrous.

How else would one describe the shutdown-mandated closure of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Plum Island? Do people really require federal supervision to observe birds among the dunes and stroll along the beach?

Apparently so. Visitors to the refuge this week have found the gates closed and locked. Clearly, the closure was not necessary to prevent people from creating havoc within the refuge — law enforcement patrols were still on duty.

But to access Sandy Point, visitors must travel down a six-mile road through the federal refuge. The refuge closure meant that access to the state park, which has about 50 parking spaces, was also closed.

Similar foolishness was on display throughout the nation as national parks and monuments were all closed. Americans, apparently, cannot be trusted to look at turning leaves, mountain vistas or war memorials without the protective hand of Uncle Sam firmly on their shoulders.

To whom, after all, do these natural and man-made wonders belong — the government or the people?

In Washington, some would have none of this nonsense. A group of veterans of the generation that stormed the beaches of Normandy was reduced to storming the gates of the monument erected in their honor.

The veterans, some in wheelchairs, had come from Mississippi to visit the World War II memorial. They arrived at the National Mall to barricades fitted with signs announcing that the memorial was closed due to the government shutdown. The Nazis couldn’t keep these men out of France. A few signs weren’t going to keep them from honoring their comrades in arms. They went in anyway — and good for them. Why, after all, is federal oversight needed for a group of veterans to visit some granite monuments set in a city park?

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