Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Gestapo tactics for seniors

Posted by on Oct. 8, 2013 at 7:25 PM
  • 21 Replies


NEWBURYPORT — Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.

Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.

Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.

Vaillancourt took part in a nine-day tour of western parks and sites along with about four dozen senior citizen tourists. One of the highlights of the tour was to be Yellowstone, where they arrived just as the shutdown went into effect.

Rangers systematically sent visitors out of the park, though some groups that had hotel reservations — such as Vaillancourt’s — were allowed to stay for two days. Those two days started out on a sour note, she said.

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

By Oct. 3 the park, which sees an average of 4,500 visitors a day, was nearly empty. The remaining hotel visitors were required to leave.

As the bus made its 2.5-hour journey out of Yellowstone, the tour guide made arrangements to stop at a full-service bathroom at an in-park dude ranch he had done business with in the past. Though the bus had its own small bathroom, Vaillancourt said seniors were looking for a more comfortable place to stop. But no stop was made — Vaillancourt said the dude ranch had been warned that its license to operate would be revoked if it allowed the bus to stop. So the bus continued on to Livingston, Mont., a gateway city to the park.

The bus trip made headlines in Livingston, where the local newspaper Livingston Enterprise interviewed the tour guide, Gordon Hodgson, who accused the park service of “Gestapo tactics.”

“The national parks belong to the people,” he told the Enterprise. “This isn’t right.”

Calls to Yellowstone’s communications office were not returned, as most of the personnel have been furloughed.

Many of the foreign visitors were shocked and dismayed by what had happened and how they were treated, Vaillancourt said.

“A lot of people who were foreign said they wouldn’t come back (to America),” she said.

The National Parks’ aggressive actions have spawned significant criticism in western states. Governors in park-rich states such as Arizona have been thwarted in their efforts to fund partial reopenings of parks. The Washington Times quoted an unnamed Park Service official who said park law enforcement personnel were instructed to “make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

The experience brought up many feelings in Vaillancourt. What struck her most was a widely circulated story about a group of World War II veterans who were on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial when the shutdown began. The memorial was barricaded and guards were posted, but the vets pushed their way in.

That reminded her of her father, a World War II veteran who spent three years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese,” she recalled, her eyes welling with tears. “Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them.

“He always said to stand up for what you believe in, and don’t let them push you around,” she said, adding she was sad to see “fear, guns and control” turned on citizens in her own country.

Minnow Slayer

by on Oct. 8, 2013 at 7:25 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM
1 mom liked this
Sounds like a bunch of old people complaining. They say the same things when they think theyve had to wait too long for their perscription at CVS.
fireangel5
by Gold Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM
7 moms liked this

Wow, how ignorant. Armed guards for a bunch of seniors. These parks belong to the AMERICAN people. There weren't these issues when the gov't shut down for other presidents. I feel like we are being tested to see how complacent we are, how much we'll take and what we'll do about it. Sadly, I am seeing a lot of complacency, a lot of , "oh well, its not a big deal, "complainers", "theres worse things to worry about" etc. Of course there are worse things but don't you see what's happening? This is absolutely ridiculous!!

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:08 PM
3 moms liked this

 Their trip had been paid for and monies accepted by the park.  I hope some of these groups sue.

I am in Wyoming and we have heard of a number of complaints coming out of Yellowstone.

I'm still trying to figure out why these parks have to be closed this time around.  Duh...silly girl...it has to hurt.

 

Carpy
by Ruby Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:09 PM
1 mom liked this

My brother has been telling me.

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Their trip had been paid for and monies accepted by the park.  I hope some of these groups sue.

I am in Wyoming and we have heard of a number of complaints coming out of Yellowstone.

I'm still trying to figure out why these parks have to be closed this time around.  Duh...silly girl...it has to hurt.

 


Minnow Slayer

sstripedmonkey
by Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:11 PM
1 mom liked this
Maybe they should take the money from the idiots in Washington to pay for the parks, at least people enjoy those.
rebeccab1966
by Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:12 PM

 


Quoting fireangel5:

Wow, how ignorant. Armed guards for a bunch of seniors. These parks belong to the AMERICAN people. There weren't these issues when the gov't shut down for other presidents. I feel like we are being tested to see how complacent we are, how much we'll take and what we'll do about it. Sadly, I am seeing a lot of complacency, a lot of , "oh well, its not a big deal, "complainers", "theres worse things to worry about" etc. Of course there are worse things but don't you see what's happening? This is absolutely ridiculous!!

Amen.  It's disgusting.  We're becoming a nation of sheeple.

 

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:15 PM
2 moms liked this

 

Quoting Carpy:

My brother has been telling me.

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Their trip had been paid for and monies accepted by the park.  I hope some of these groups sue.

I am in Wyoming and we have heard of a number of complaints coming out of Yellowstone.

I'm still trying to figure out why these parks have to be closed this time around.  Duh...silly girl...it has to hurt.

 


 It is bad for the tourism industry.  Wyoming is very red...stuff like this will probably just make us redder.

 

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:16 PM

 Has anyone heard if the government is refunding people when they get kicked out/off?  I have not heard a peep about that.

 

Linus77
by Member on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:22 PM
3 moms liked this

Interesting that the government feels they must shut down nature on public property because they don't have the funds to ..."run the parks" (what? are they paying the moose, buffalo, and the trees?), but they are PAYING PEOPLE TO ENFORCE THE SHUTDOWN?!

How does this make sense? 

False imprisonment

Illegal seizure of property

Abuse of government positions

Abuse of civilians

Violation of constitutional rights

Overreaching states' rights

Why do we put up with this?

Mommabearbergh
by on Oct. 8, 2013 at 8:28 PM
I would have felt like crap if I had to be the person to be rude to the elderly. I hope they get some money back. So sad what this country is coming to.
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN