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Montana veterans met with 'red tape' at many Washington, D.C. monuments

Published On: Oct 15 2013 06:21:29 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 15 2013 10:44:40 PM MDT
BUTTE, Mont. -

We've been following the impact of the shutdown on Montanans.

A Butte veteran who just returned from Washington, D.C., told us it was disappointing to see closed monuments and barricaded memorials.

We met with Royal Olson at his home Tuesday afternoon, just hours after he returned from his trip to Washington, D.C.

He showed us a book of what he expected to see on a trip to the nation's capital. It was full of flowing fountains and open monuments, but his experience was much different.

"They said it wasn't open and we shouldn't be there," Olson said, describing his interaction with D.C. police at a memorial.

Royal is one of the 90 veterans who traveled to D.C. on the latest Montana Honor Flight.

The Big Sky Honor Flight program flies Montana veterans to D.C. to see their memorial at no cost to them.

"We were frustrated," he explained, "they couldn't see it was right to have all these things closed."

The government shutdown has all the memorials in D.C. closed off, including the memorials like the one dedicated to World War II, the one Olson was there to visit.

"We did run into a little trouble at some of them," Olson said.

But that didn't stop them. Olson explained the group's bus drivers took down the barricades at the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial and there were some tense moments, but the group was ultimately allowed in.

"As long as we were there, they let us go through if we went through quickly before they got in trouble," he explained.

He explained when the group arrived a the World War II memorial, a familiar Montanan met them there to open the barricade.

"Senator Baucus came over and opened that one up for us, so we got in there without trouble," Olson said.

He said that in the end he did have a good time, but the effects of shutdown frustrated the entire group.

"I didn't think it was very fair," he said. "After all we went over there and spent a lot of time over seas fighting for what we got, and now to come home and get shut off from the things that are there for us to see."