Although President Obama claims that he can’t avoid shutting down public sites and monuments, war memorials were in fact kept open during the 1995/1996 government shutdowns. The administration’s decision to barricade the Lincoln Memorial marks the first time in its history the memorial has been totally off limits to visitors during a shutdown.
The administration has also balked at efforts by non-governmental groups to maintain access to public sites.
But during the Clinton-era shutdown, World War II veterans kept the Pearl Harbor memorial open.
“Despite the federal government shutdown and an unrepaired sign that reads ‘Arizona Memorial closed,’ tourists are still getting expert commentary about the World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor,” wrote the Associated Press on January 1, 1996.
“It’s our way of helping to preserve the history of this place,” Bob Kinzler, president of the Aloha Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors, told the AP.
Barricades went up in national parks across Washington, D.C. Wednesday, including the Lincoln Memorial. This, too, was unprecedented.
A photo of the Lincoln Memorial during the government shutdown of 1995 shows the info booth closed but tourists still had access to the grounds.