Republican Congressman Steve King says he "intentionally distracted" a park service guard Tuesday morning so World War II veterans from Mississippi and then Iowa could see their memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The memorial had been barricaded Monday night because of the partial government shutdown. About 90 Mississippi veterans, many in wheelchairs, flooded through the opened barricade, following a man in a kilt playing a bagpipe. An "Honor Flight" group of 150 Iowans from Story County arrived at the memorial about 40 minutes later.
The National Park Service oversees the National Mall and its memorials. Barricades were erected overnight around the mall, signaling a closure associated with the government shutdown.
King directly blames President Obama for ordering those barricades.
King says by afternoon the memorials to veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were open.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was at the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning before the Iowans arrived, trying to phone Park Service officials to ask that the barricades be removed.