Government shutdown doesn’t stop local veteran, familyPublished 12:06am Wednesday, October 2, 2013
From staff and wire reports
After defeating the Axis powers nearly 70 years go, a few park barricades was no match Tuesday for a Natchez World War II veteran visiting the nation’s capital.
A simple act of civil disobedience thrust 93-year-old Noland Biglane and 90 other Mississippi veterans into the national spotlight.
The group, participants in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, defied the government shutdown Tuesday morning to visit the World War II Memorial.
“These guys have been through a lot worse with the depression and World War II,” said Pat Biglane, Noland’s son. “Compared to what they have been through, this was really nothing. There were others trying to make an issue out of it because of the government shutdown, but it was all about the World War II vets, and that is what we wanted it to be about.
“It was very moving for my dad and (the other veterans). A lot of them were very moved going by the Mississippi monument.”
Pat traveled with his father on the honor flight, a non-profit effort to fly Mississippi’s World War II veterans to the Washington, D.C., free of charge in order to see national monuments built in their honor.
Noland Biglane enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and served four years.
Pat Biglane said the group included approximately 200 people. The trip was to include stops at the World War II Memorial and other monuments.
Congressmen were told by the National Park Service to remove the barricades at their own risk, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo’s spokesperson Laura Chambers said.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he believed the National Park Service opened the gates. Rep Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said the congressmen did it. Palazzo, R-Miss., said the barricades just seemed to part.
“I’m not going to enforce the ‘no stopping or standing’ sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans,” said a U.S. Park Police officer, who declined to give his name. “I’m a veteran myself.”
Palazzo 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 Park Service employees would not help move the barricades, but did not stand in the way of them being moved.
“This is the best civil disobedience we’ve seen in Washington in a long time,” Huizenga said.