Let common sense prevail

Part of the reason so many Americans are fed up with government in general is that too often, bureaucrats display a lack of common sense.

During World War II, Joe McGrain of Rochester served aboard a B-26 bomber. That very aircraft is on display at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

For decades, McGrain has wanted to see his plane again and to show it to his wife and two sons. On Oct. 1, McGrain and his wife went to Dayton. His sons, from Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, went with their parents.

No way, the McGrains were told when they asked to see the B-26. The museum was closed as part of the partial government shutdown that began that day.

Yes, the museum is closed, but it’s not completely, 100 percent closed because some personnel remain on duty there. What would it have hurt for one of them to quietly escort the McGrains in to see the aircraft on which an elderly man once risked his life for his country?

On that same Tuesday, 91 veterans from Mississippi visited the National Mall in Washington to see the World War II monument. They were flown to the capital through the Honor Flight program. An Honor Flight representative called the National Park Service about the barricade in front of the monument. He was told that anyone who tried to enter would be arrested.

The veterans, some in their 90s, pushed the barricade aside. Led by a bagpiper, they went onto the monument grounds.

Park Service police, showing more common sense, compassion and patriotism than some of their superiors, moved aside and watched. No one was arrested.

Some of the officers may well have pondered how it was that the bureaucrats decided Park Service employees to keep the monument open were not considered “essential” and thus were not on the job – while there was plenty of money for officers told to keep it closed.

We’re glad that veterans on subsequent Honor Flights, including one from the North Country, were allowed to see the World War II and other memorials. This makes sense.

The World War II monument has since been adopted by the tea party movement, which claims President Obama is scoring political points by closing sites and blaming it on Republicans. Tea partiers held a rally at the monument this weekend, but that event, featuring Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz, was the same kind of political point-scoring these people say they oppose. We want no part of that.

We just think that, since some staff are working during the shutdown, sensible exceptions can be made. One has to wonder what veterans like McGrain are thinking about the government for which they risked their lives. Common sense, they may conclude, has been told to stay at home during the shutdown. Thankfully, sometimes it shows up for work anyway.