VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - The government shutdown has national parks in the Heartland shut off to visitors, but that didn't stop some locals from enjoying the Big Spring in Van Buren on Monday.
To 92-year-old Raymond Sanders, the sound of nature sounds like freedom.
"Someone said this morning, 'Raymond, you ready to go back into the service?' I said yeah, I'd probably have to mash potatoes, it's about all I can do anymore," Sanders said.
He proudly served in World War II. He said he fought for American liberty, including the freedom to visit national parks.
"This park has meant something to me," he said. "I've been coming to it all my life."
He's not the only one who said the government shutdown won't stop them from seeing the sights they love.
"Well, we came to see it," Cara Black, a park visitor, said. "We are taxpayers, so we helped fund this. So, we would have probably moved past the barricade anyway."
Some people even took matters into their own hands.
"We are going to deposit this over here and hopefully the park service personnel will understand that we'd like them to leave it there and let the people enjoy the park that our taxpayers pay for."
The Carter County Presiding Commissioner John Bailiff said the shutdown has been a hit to the entire area. He said local businesses depend on tourism at the national park.
"It's not about the people that live here and work for the park service," Bailiff said. "I applaud them for their effort and they're friends and neighbors of ours, but they're getting directives that come down to them that I know embarrass them."
This veteran said he's enjoyed the park his whole life and didn't want to stop now.
"I'm glad to see things were all tore down, so we can come in here," Raymond Sanders said. "Let's have a little freedom."
Locals say there were barriers at the entrance to the park last night, but this morning those barriers were removed. They say if the barriers are put back up, they plan to remove them again.