The Centenarian Who Inspired a Protest of The Government Shutdown
Even a partial government shutdown couldn’t stop Antoinette Betourne from celebrating her 100th birthday with a meal of a ham biscuit, Brunswick stew and a piece of carrot cake from the aptly-named Carrot Tree restaurant, according to a report by local ABC news channel, 13News Now.
Much has been made of the widespread effects of the shutting of national parks—a side effect of the partial shutdown that ended early Thursday morning after 16 days. The heart-string plucking stories range from Grand Canyon weddings that had to be cancelled last-minute, to Vietnam Veterans being denied access to the memorial erected in their honor. And who can forget that American citizen who simply wanted to make sure the lawn in front of our 16th president’s monument was well-manicured.
Betourne’s milestone anniversary was initially deferred because her beloved Carrot Tree is situated in the Cole Diggs House—on the site of the famous Revolutionary War-ending Battle of Yorktown. The house itself dates back to the 18th century and is leased to restaurateur Glenn Helseth by the Colonial National Historic Park, an entity operated by the National Park Service.
Helseth was ordered to close Carrot Tree’s doors within 48 hours of the shutdown, but concern for his employees and Betourne’s impending anniversary persuaded him to re-open in spite of the mandate. During the so-called “Occupy NPS (National Park Service),” the Carrot Tree not only remained open, they provided free food for all their customers.
Helseth knows he risks arrest for defying the government mandate, but feels it’s worth it, especially since he was able to provide Betourne the celebration she deserved to commemorate a century of life. “When I heard that they had to cancel her birthday party, that was the last straw for me,” he tells 13NewsNow reporter Karen Hopkins. “I’m not so much afraid of getting in trouble. If that’s what’s going to happen, so be it.”
What would you have done if you were in Helseth’s position?
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By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor