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Natchez veteran defies shutdown in Washington

NATCHEZ — A Natchez man was among a group of veterans from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight who defied the government shutdown this morning to visit the World War II Memorial.

Kay Biglane Taylor wrote to The Natchez Democrat saying she and her brother, Pat Biglane, took their father, Noland Biglane, 93, on the trip, which was a World War II Honor Flight effort.

Noland Biglane of Natchez entered the Army Air Corps in 1941 and served four years.

He is part of 91 veterans and their guardians who were greeted with barricades as they arrived at the memorial in Washington, D.C.

Congressmen were told by the National Parks Service to remove the barricades at their own risk, according to U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo spokesperson Laura Chambers.

Palazzo, R-Miss., had the barricades moved and escorted veteran Donald Quinn to lay the wreath at the Mississippi column.

“It’s a sad day,” Palazzo said. “We’re doing our veterans a disservice not allowing them inside. I’m here to celebrate this moment and see that they have the best day they possibly can.”

Quinn, who laid the wreath for the Honor Flight vets, said he was just waiting by the barricades when he was given the wreath.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I appreciated it and enjoyed it.”

Palazzo said Parks Service employees would not help move the barricades, but did not stand in the way of them being moved.

“We still don’t know if there will be repercussions,” Chambers said. “The congressman said it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Media surrounded the memorial as the Honor Flight group entered.

“This is the best civil disobedience we’ve seen in Washington in a long time,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan said.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said “When I look at this group, I am so grateful for the legacy we have to carry on,”

Nearly 200 World War II veterans and their guardians left Gulfport early Tuesday for Washington, D.C., despite the government shutdown.

The plans for the day include viewing the World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Honor Flight Vice President Wayne Lennep was worried some of the open air monuments would be barricaded and closed.

“We’re going anyway,” Lennep said earlier. “We don’t know how close we will be able to get, but we’re going to see what we can.”