LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- Several of the nearly 100 veterans who gathered Sunday morning at a Red Rock war memorial to fallen veterans had sharp words for Washington and all politicians.
"The purpose of being here today is to stand up against the tyranny in this nation and the lack of leadership that the government shutdown caused to make it as hard as possible on the veterans as well as the citizens of this country," Rick Hillis told News 3. "A lot of us are here for different reasons, but a majority of us are tired of the tyranny of our government."
The veterans said they were part of a nationwide call that went out to get war memorials from Washington D.C., to every part of the country open. Most memorials and national parks have been closed for nearly two weeks because of the partial government shutdown. Officials from the Bureau of Land Management opened the shuttered gates at Red Rock before 9 a.m. Sunday to allow the veterans to hold a vigil at the Red Rock war memorial that is located behind the visitor's center.
Will Lehman of Utah rode his motorcycle from Utah to the west side of Las Vegas. He said the BLM was wise to open the gates.
"When I left we didn't know if the BLM was going to open up the memorial," he said. "This is part of a greater march if you will with veterans all over the country going to memorials that have been shut down by the National Park Service, the BLM and the Forest Service and essentially we came here intending to come in no matter what. The BLM was wise enough to open up the memorial to allow us to come in."
Hillis believes a movement is starting in the country to let the federal government know people are upset over recent actions.
"We are sick and tired of the way Washington is run with the lack of leadership from the White House down through Congress and Senate, we're sick of them all," he said. "As far as them working together, I don't care if they work together or not. They serve us and we're here to kick off a change in our country and we're going to take this country back. That's why we are here."
With polls showing a high disapproval rate for Congress, Democrats and Republicans, Hillis says the next election is too far away to make changes.
"I think we need a change in leadership and and we need a change now and I don't believe in waiting until we vote is the way to do it," he said. "There is treason in our government from the White House all the way down. The appointed officials from our president give us great concern as to what our country is headed toward."
Lehman said, "The shutdown is essentially a farce. It is a political game being played in Washington that is affecting us all over the country. Right here in Nevada and Las Vegas and we oppose it. That's why we are here and we believe nationwide that a movement is afoot to stop what they are doing. People are standing up saying enough."
JoLynn Worle said the BLM decided to open the gates to Red Rock because of safety concerns. She said two people were cited earlier in the week for trespassing into Red Rock. The federal site has been closed since Sept. 30 because of the partial government shutdown.
"With so many people involved and a possible hazardous situation it was a common-sense call to temporarily open the gates today, Worley said. She is the deputy chief of office communications for the BLM.
She believed two citations were issued to two people earlier in the week. No details available.
Lehman said excessive federal spending is the bigger problem.
"You know we are at $17 trillion dollars in debt. There is no way we will ever pay that back without broad changes in our system. We need to cut funding on a lot of the bureaucracy. We need to cut funding on a lot of the things that are unnecessary that are not things that the federal government should be handling and we need to reign in the spending and get back on track. The shutdown is a farce; 85 percent of all federal employees are still working, the furloughed ones are going to get paid, the people working are going to get paid. There's no shutdown. Yet all the national parks and all the memorials are shut. So who are they affecting? Who are they going after? Well, they are going after veterans, disabled veterans, active duty military and now they are talking Social Security if they don't turn it around and end this shutdown."
Lehman said the U.S. is becoming a socialist country.
"In think everybody here at some point in their life fought socialism. You know, put their name on a blank check and went off and risked their hide .. and what do we have here today? What do we have in the United States today? Socialism. It is getting out of control. They pass programs, Obamacare is an example, that they can't possibly fund without 7-8-9 more trillion dollars in debt. Who is going to pay this?"