How to Sneak into Monuments in Washington, D.C.
A guide of how to sneak into Washington D.C’s important monuments when the U.S. government inevitably shuts itself down again – and why it’s even easier than you would think.
As a politics major at university, Washington D.C. was a city I was most looking forward to. I wanted to walk from one monument to another and pretend I was onto a new conspiracy like in Prisonbreak and National Treasure, I wanted to take selfies with the National Mall and the White House as my backdrop, and most importantly, as a political junkie, I wanted to stalk some very important people and try and get myself a job.
I had some big plans, but the one thing I didn’t think of was President Obama calling a shutdown of the government a mere week from when I was to roll up in a city that in 2009 saw 17.9 million visitors.
Washington D.C. is meant to be a walking city for tourists: all the big monuments that you check off your list of Tripadvisor’s things to do are within walking distance. Yet, the place was almost a ghost-town – well, close to one. So when you’re in a group of twenty-somethings, all disappointed with the closure of the national monuments we all inevitably spent hours in traffic to get to, all of us on a budget holiday, what do you do in this city?
Target: World War II Memorial
Reason for entry: Seemed the easiest to get into
What to watch out for: The patrolling security guard
Although a patrolling security guard stopped my fellow tourists from checking out the 5.8-meter statue of Abraham Lincoln from a ridiculously close distance, that still didn’t stop a small crowd from gathering to try get as good a picture as possible anyway.
However, about a kilometere away, the WWII Memorial seemed to exude an air of neglect. The sandbags meant to hold down the foots of the barricades were kicked aside and the yellow-and-black police tape flew in the wind broken. Some people before us stood on the street outside of the Memorial, still able to capture proof of their visit to the nation’s capital. But I wanted better.
So it was easy to move the barricades a teensy bit to let my friends and I through. It was easy to run around taking photos of the Victory medal seal on the floor and of the pillars representing the states that fought for America in the war. It was easy to feel invincible like a high-schooler getting out of a detention because there wasn’t anyone else in this Memorial that apparently attracts 4.4 million people visit each year.
We hid behind the pillars as though halfway through a game of hide and seek as a lone reporter and her cameraman filmed the site from the street. For a second, I was worried that we’d get in their shot as a security guard was interviewed. Yet when the security guard returned to his duty and walked right by us, I realised that 10 days into the shutdown, even Washington D.C. didn’t care that we were defying the law.
Because even though we there in the midst of American history being made, in the very city where the shutdown had been most effective, in the end apart from those workers who were sent home for the duration of the shutdown, the tourists were most affected by America’s government shutdown.
So when February 7th comes around and America decides it can’t deal, remember that all you need is your phone/camera (for proof) and a fearless attitude to ensure that you don’t miss out on all the touristy sights you’re meant to see in Washington DC.
Note, when Congress is in session on Capitol Hill it’s free to walk in and watch the Democrats and Republicans duke it out. This too is an entertaining anti-shutdown activity – for 5 minutes.