Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) apologized Thursday for scolding a park ranger over keeping the World War II Memorial closed during the government shutdown.
“While I do feel strongly about allowing our veterans access to the national memorials, I’m sorry for the way I spoke, not only because I put the Ranger on duty in an uncomfortable position, but also because my remarks were not an accurate reflection of the regard I have for the Park Service,” he said in the letter addressed to the park director.
Neugebauer faced sharp criticism for an incident at the World War II Memorial two days into the government shut down. Confronting a female ranger, he said: “The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves” for denying people access.
"I'm not ashamed," the ranger replied.
"You should be," Neugebauer responded.
Neugebauer sent the letter to the director of the National Parks Service because the ranger he berated wanted to remain anonymous.
Neugebauer's office said he reached out the Park Service immediately after the incident to get the ranger's information. The apology is going out nearly two weeks later because the Park Service just got back to him. The ranger requested to remain anonymous and suggested writing a letter to the director, his office said.
The World War II Memorial became a focal point in the shutdown debate, and the administration eventually began allowing some veterans onto the memorial as a First Amendment protest.
In his letter, Neugebauer said public service was a calling. The Texas lawmaker said he respects all who do it, even though he might not always agree on the best path forward.
“Debate and dissent is crucial in our democracy, but it should be done in a respectful manner, while that was my intent, I realize that it wasn’t the outcome,” he said.