Mind you, these crowds were not made up of "students" nor were they of people who detest much about the United States (or blame that nation for ruining their lives) - they were tax-paying, patriotic Americans who likely would never have joined a single major protest in their entire lives.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/12/watch-the-moving-moment-when-fed-up-americans-break-through-barriers-at-the-lincoln-memorial-walk-up-the-steps-and-celebrate/ (videos in link)
"Protesters broke down barricades at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Saturday, walking up the steps en masse in a moving scene.
Security from the National Park Service reportedly did nothing to stop them, reports KLTV-TV......
“Tractor-trailers headed down 17th Street toward the Mall, blaring their horns. The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off the street, prompting the crowd to head up the street, shouting at the police to move their vehicles,” WTOP reports......"
Thousands of demonstrators arrived early in the morning and tore down barricades that had been set up to block people from visiting the popular attractions, WTOP reports.
The group said military personnel and veterans are “being used a political pawns in the ongoing government shutdown and budget crisis,” according to a statement on its website.
The group also said it has no political leaning, but believes that the closing of memorials is “a despicable act of cowardice.”....."
“This is the people's memorial,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told a crowd of several hundred gathered near the WWII Memorial on the closed National Mall, which has become a national symbol of the shutdown and the country’s response. “Simple question: Why is the federal government spending money to keep veterans out of the memorial? Why did they spend money to keep people out of Mount Vernon, Mount Rushmore? Our veterans should be above political games.”
Veterans, including many in wheelchairs, took down police barricades and entered the memorial at about midday as others took the protest to the edge of the White House South Lawn.
“Today somebody’s wife [or] husband is dead in Afghanistan. Is somebody going to pay her husband [or] his wife or their children?” one protester shouted at the White House, referring to the partial shutdown cutting off benefits for the survivors of military personnel.
Some of the metal barricades were carried the roughly half-mile walk from the memorial to the White House, where they were left near the fence in front of Pennsylvania Avenue...."