There are plenty of things that you would think are common sense about patriotism. One of them would almost certainly be not swimming in the pool at the World War II Memorial.
Common sense is not so common these days, and unfortunately patriotic common sense is even less common in certain corners of the American polity nowadays.
So, you get things like this enraging video, published on Facebook late last month.
The video, which has garnered over 3.4 million views and 43,000 shares, shows tourists and Washingtonians wading, swimming and laughing in the pool at the memorial on the National Mall as the person taking the video tries to inform them how disrespectful they’re being:
It’s unclear when this video was taken (global warming being what it is nowadays, it’s been a ridiculously cold winter for most of the country, meaning this clearly wasn’t taken in January).
However, reports of problems with tourists swimming in the pool at the World War II Memorial go back to at least 2010, just six years after it opened, when the issue was reported on by WRC-TV in the nation’s capital.
“The water that serves as the centerpiece of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall can be an inviting site for those looking to beat the heat on these 100-degree days,” WRC-TV reported back then.
“But a word of advice: Feel free to sit on the edge and get your feet and ankles wet, but don’t wade in the water.”
National Park Service spokesman Bill Line apparently had to remind people that swimming in the World War II Memorial was not only unconscionable, it was also illegal.
“It is also considered to be highly disrespectful to World War II veterans, sadly most of whom are no longer with us,” Line said.
“There should be a high level of respect and decorum displayed at all times at the Memorial.
“Each situation is unique, but depending on how the person conducts themselves, officers have discretion and can make an arrest,” he added.
And, as late as 2016, the National Park Service was looking at putting out new signing to discourage waders from disrespecting our veterans.
“It happens every summer when the weather gets warm,” National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said, according to Military.com.
“We are looking at changing the signage at the memorial to help clarify the issue of wading in the fountain,” he said. “While no final decisions have been made, we are considering things such as the wording on the signs, the number of signs placed around the memorial and their locations, and even adding some signs in languages other than English.”
Part of the problem, according to a National Park Service volunteer who chose not to be named, is that volunteers “can inform visitors of the rules, but cannot enforce them. When school groups start visiting the memorial in the summer, it’s almost impossible to keep everyone out of the water, he said.”
“Tweens are the worst,” the unnamed volunteer added.
It doesn’t just annoy the Park Service or the guides, though. Veterans are also irked at the waders and swimmers.
“My dad and I were here on an Honor Flight and as he read the names of the battles, he was very quiet and you could see he was reliving some of those times,” a social media commenter wrote on the issue of waders. “This memorial was built for them. It was not built for your entertainment. Be respectful. Show some restraint.”
We couldn’t agree more. If patriotic common sense cannot compel these waders from following the rules, perhaps stricter enforcement is what’s needed — not just more signage to ignore.
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