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Illinois Vets Visit Memorial Despite Government Shutdown

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Chicago area World War II veterans went Washington on a mission Wednesday.

They were taking part in an Honor Flight, and they visited the World War II memorial despite the government shutdown.

There was one thing that complicated their visit: The memorial, like all of the national parks and monuments, is closed due to the shutdown.

“We are going to go right the hell in there,” said veteran Aaron Levin. “That’s what they needed us for in World War II, to straighten things out. We are going to straighten them out now.”

Mary Pettinato is co-founder of “Honor Flight Chicago,” which arranges the trips to see the memorial.

She says the veterans are in their 80s and 90s and have waited up to two years for a spot on the plane to go to Washington to see the memorial that now stands in their honor.

Another group of veterans did break past the gates there on Tuesday to visit the site.

“We’re gonna either force ourselves in or plead with them to let us in,” said Pete Sammaro.

Sen. Mark Kirk met the veterans at the memorial after they arrived on Wednesday morning and sent out a picture via his Twitter page.

Senator Kirk greets veterans at the World War II memorial on Wednesday. (Credit: Mark Kirk/Twitter)

Senator Kirk greets veterans at the World War II memorial on Wednesday. (Credit: Mark Kirk/Twitter)

The veterans arrived back at Midway Airport Wednesday night.

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