Volunteers Help Maintain Monument During Shutdown
The disputes among the House, Senate, and President are reflecting terribly on America’s government. Congress has an all-time low approval rating, which is impressive given just how low that approval rating has been the last several years, and President Obama is finding himself in the mid-30’s, making the popularity that he had long enjoyed seem like a thing of the distant past. Even so, with $17 trillion of debt, no budget, and political leaders who have gone long periods without even negotiating with each other, one could say that the shutdown is actually bringing out the best in Americans.
Among the government agencies that were largely shutdown at the end of September was the National Parks Service, which is responsible for the upkeep of the national monuments and memorials. Tourists, veterans, and others have been arrested as they tried to visit them, leading some to protest and others to forego the chance to see them. This was especially disappointing for veterans trying to honour their fallen brothers.
Well, Chris Cox of South Carolina had seen enough. To him, the memorials meant more than the political football being played by Washington insiders. “The [Lincoln Memorial] serves as a moral compass not only for our country but for the world… And over my dead body are we going to let this deteriorate” said Cox in an interview with ABC News. Cox took it upon himself to mow the area around the Memorial and do some routine maintenance that would usually be handled by the National Park Service.
After emptying hundreds of trash cans, cutting up some branches that were blocking handicapped access roads, and mowing much of the grass there, he was told to leave since he was not authorized to be there. He left peacefully, but not before he had completed much of the work that he wanted to do.
Strictly speaking, his actions may not have been legal, but that didn’t mean that others wouldn’t follow suit. Just this past weekend several other people were seen cleaning up as much of the Washington Mall as they could. In most cases, this was the simple trash removal both from the ground and from rubbish bins. Many of those taking action were in their sixties or older, meaning that such work must have been extremely important to them since it most certainly wasn’t easy.
As Republicans and Democrats continue their squabbles and show both their country and the world the worst of what America has to offer, average citizens are showing just the opposite. Volunteers are picking up where the government left off, and while parts of the government that are open may be getting in their way, they are showing that the spirit of patriotism and service are alive and well even in the city that inspires more cynicism that just about any other on the planet. People may ask whom they should blame for the shutdown, but it’s abundantly clear whom everyone should thank.