This upcoming Sunday is the annual memorial ceremony at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the lives lost in service, but documents released show that companies illegally sold tickets to the free event with the full knowledge of park officials, the Star Tribune reports.
The sunken battleship USS Arizona was one of the main targets when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 and is visited by 1.8 million tourists annually. Tickets to the memorial are supposed to be free.
The report detailing the shocking revelations was obtained by a non-profit group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility through a Freedom of Information Act request. National Park Service (NPS) objections to the release of the documents were unsuccessful in hiding the fact that park managers “knew or were complicit in tour companies siphoning off most tickets which are by law supposed to be available free to the public.” The ticket scandal took place at a time when park employees knew tickets were already in short supply.
During the shortage, park service employees gave tour companies tickets to sell to the public—right in front of the park ranger. Another example from the report showed that a tour company tried to convince two visitors who had driven their own rental car to the site to buy tickets at $39 dollars apiece.
“The NPS is aware of what is happening,” an unnamed investigator said.
Veterans are absolutely furious at the desecration of an event meant to honor the sacrifice of 2,400 sailors, marines, and soldiers, who gave their lives 73 years ago in service to their country.
One veteran in particular, John Landrysmith, questioned the ticket policy and said that the park service failed to act on complaints. Now that the former park service guide and 41-year-old Iraq war veteran has quit his job, Landrysmith said that the next step is for him to file a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit.
“To watch the desecration of a very sacred, very important place was very disheartening,” said Landrysmith.
According to park superintendent Paul DePrey, a new ticketing system is being introduced next month to fix some of the problems of tour companies snatching up tickets and selling them at a pure profit. This comes after revelations that when he was informed of ticketing problems, he “told [employees] to mind their own business.”
The new system will set strict requirements on any companies acquiring the tickets. Meanwhile, NPS has refused to carry out any internal investigations, and no changes in management have been made since the reports were released.
It is not yet clear what benefits were given in exchange for tour companies selling the tickets.
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