The crowd was egged on by Tea Party leaders, Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The memorial has been closed down since the government was shut down Oct. 1 over the budget impasse.
When police blocked tractor-trailers blaring their horns and headed for the mall, the protesters headed up 17th Street. Hundreds returned to the mall, WTOP said.
Cruz, who earlier spoke for 21 hours in the Senate trying to force Democrats to defund Obamacare in exchange for a vote to end the government shutdown, said President Obama was using veterans as political pawns in the shutdown.