Lawnmower Man recognized by California congressman

Cox mowing the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial. (Source: Richard Martone)

WASHINGTON (WCIV) -- The man who traveled to Washington to assemble the Monument Militia, a one-man mission to maintain the National Mall, was recognized at a House of Representatives meeting Thursday.Congressman Darrell E. Issa, who represents California's 49th District, requested time from the Speaker and read a statement recognizing Chris Cox of Mount Pleasant as, "an American who has shown enormous commitment to our country and veterans during this stalemate in Washington."Chris Cox showed up outside the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday morning with a push mower, a hand-truck with supplies and a South Carolina flag and got to work on one of the many federally maintained lawns that have gone unkempt during the partial government shutdown.

Cox said he was cleaning up the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial so that it was tidy when thousands of veterans visit the nation's capital this weekend for the Million Vet March.According to Issa's written statement, when Cox was asked why he traveled from South Carolina with only a lawn mower and chainsaw, he replied, "These are our memorials. If they shut down our memorials, we're still going to take the trash out, we're going to clean the windows, we're going to cut the grass, we're going to pull the weeds, we're going to do the tree work."Cox said he's been out there since the first day of shutdown and rode his bike all over the memorials during the first two nights to make sure no one defaced them."After two days of running security, I realized I would run a more vital role as a janitor or maintenance guy," Cox said.

"Park Police decided they didn't like it after high-fiving me in the beginning and they were kind of rude to me," he added. "But it was no big deal. I told them when I got there that the moment I wasn't an asset I would be more than happy to leave."

Rep. Mark Sanford said he met with Cox last week when he wanted to express how unhappy he was with the shutdown."[Wednesday] I went for my run down to the Lincoln Memorial, and there in front of the memorial I saw a South Carolina flag hanging from the back of a lawn mower. Curious I went up to the flag, and who should be there, but Chris. It turns out he had taken it upon himself since our visit last week to keep up the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and World War II memorials and surrounding grounds! He bought a lawn mower, a blower and told me he had spent the days and evenings since our visit, picking up trash, cutting grass and blowing leaves to keep walkways clean. An hour before we met, a park service officer had come up and told him he was no longer allowed to do sothough the park service would not maintain these monuments now," Sanford said."I'm impressed. Chris embodies what it means to be not just a South Carolinian, but an American," he added. "He saw a job that wasn't getting done and decided to take care of it. We are not a nanny state, and when government in this case chooses not to do something it's in keeping with the American tradition to ask, 'What can I do to fix the problem?' Chris's example is one we could all learn from in Washington, and accordingly, I applaud him."

Issa said he met Cox this weekend as he rode his bike around the National Mall, surveying how the shutdown had impacted it.

"This is the American spirit," Issa read Thursday afternoon. "This is the attitude and perseverance our Founding Fathers demonstrated in the face of adversity. Patriotic acts, like the ones recently displayed by Mr. Cox, serve as a great reminder of how Washington should conduct itself in this frustrating time."I again offer Mr. Cox my sincerest and humble gratitude for his service and commitment to our nation and its veterans, as well as the passion and conviction that led him to Washington to make sure our National Mall looks its best for heroes."Cox has been featured in newspapers and on television newscasts across the country including Fox News, The Washington Post, ABC News, CBS News, Huffington Post and Buzz Feed.