A pre-scheduled visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. by a group of Mississippi veterans went ahead despite the government shutdown after the vets refused to allow the barricade around the closed memorial to hold them back.

"Honor flight vets just knocked over the barriers at the WWII memorial to get inside, #shutdown or no," tweeted Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane, who was on the scene to witness the instantly iconic incident that will likely be the most memorable moment of the shutdown.

According to Shane, Republican members of Congress helped catalyze the taking of the memorial by distracting Park Police to allow the vets to move the barriers set up to prevent memorial visits during the shutdown.

According to at least one report, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) may have been instrumental in convincing the vets the push past the barricade by opening it himself and inviting the vets to enter.

"Pretty much Palazzo just opened the barricade and we followed him in," said Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight secretary Jen Walton.

Once the vets had seized control of the memorial, there was nothing the park police could do but stand by and let them through.

Not long after, Rep. Michele Bachmann arrived to fully exploit the situation by promising the vets to keep the memorial open every day, shutdown by damned.

As one ThinkProgress commenter noted, perhaps the Republicans "should have worked harder to keep it from being closed in the first place."

[H/T: The Atlantic Wire, photos via Leo Shane]