Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing American veterans to the monuments raised in their honor, had hoped to do just that Wednesday, as they had so many times in the past. This time, however, entrances were shuttered. After members of the Congress and the National Parks Service intervened on the veteran’s behalf, they were allowed in to the World War II memorial, where many of the Honor Flight veterans are honored. It was the second group in as many days to be allowed in. David Nichols, a member of the group’s National Board of Directors, said that, "today, as far as the vets are concerned, they got in to see their memorial. Obviously there was a lot of media here so that adds a little different element to it, but I don’t think it was affecting the veterans in any ill way." Mr Nichols stayed away from taking a political stance on the shutdown. "Our position is: we want to bring veterans and honor them at their memorials." And on Wednesday, Honor Flight’s goal was certainly met. But for many others who made the trip to the capital, their experience was somewhat muted as they attempted to access the myriad of DC’s government-funded tourist hotspots. Darryl Morris and Tiffany Spencer had both bought their tickets to Washington well ahead of a possible shutdown, and found themselves locked out of many of the famous sights they hoped to see. "We actually flew, and it would have been costly to cancel our plane tickets, so we were kind of locked in. Yeah, it's aggravating," said Morris.
Ms Spencer added that, "it’s a little embarrassing that our government can’t reach a decision on things like money, financing, budgets. It’s definitely embarrassing considering there are countries that are less fortunate than the US, and we just can’t seem to get it together."
Robert Resendes, who along with his wife Lara, traveled from El Paso, Texas to visit DC, said that he would tell the Congress to "look out the window. Look at all these tourists. People from all over the world are here to see our monuments, and they’re blocked out."
Still, for his wife, the trip was meant to be the fulfillment of years of expectations.
"This is my first trip to DC. I waited a lifetime. This is a bucket list item for me. And so many of the memorials have been blocked of," Ms Watkins-Resendes complained.
She added that the Congress was not meeting the same expectations it sets for its citizens.
"I just think that we are, as citizens, expected to cooperate. We'd like to see our leaders do so," said Ms Watkins-Resendes.
For John Walcott of Alexandria, Virginia, the shutdown has been a serious blow to his faith in government.
Asked if he was confident that the Congress could reach an accord, he said, "No I am not, because they should have done it already. They already should have done their job. We should not be in this position right now. Obviously it has to get done at some point. Certainly, the sooner, the better."
Meeting with congressional leaders 'useful': White House
According to a White House readout, Wednesday’s meeting with congressional leaders was "useful", if not a positive step forward in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
"The President made clear to the Leaders that he is not going to negotiate over the need for the Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit to pay the bills the Congress has already incurred. The President reinforced his view that the House should put the clean government funding bill that has been passed by the Senate up for a vote - a bill that would pass a majority of the House with bipartisan support," the readout said.
The House has tied its prior spending bills to modifications to the president’s signature healthcare reform package, the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have insisted that a spending bill be devoid of adjustments to the act.
The readout further stated that Obama was hopeful for a resolution.
"The President remains hopeful that common sense will prevail, and that the Congress will not only do its job to reopen the government, but also act to pay the bills it has racked up and spare the nation from a devastating default. The President is glad that the Leaders were able to engage in this useful discussion this evening," it read.