Dude, are you actually serious?
You seem to have completely missed the concept of memorials, sacred places etc. I mean, are you actually trying to argue that a random handrail hold as much significance to someone as a memorial or sacred place? If you are, then you are really stupid, or just really ignorant. Or deluded. Or all of the above.
Of course a war memorial holds special significance to someone, as it reminds them of what they have participated in, or what a family member has participated in. And your argument that most families only have an obscure attachment to a certain memorial through a distant relative is pretty stupid as well. My grandfather fought in the Danish resistance, and I can tell that i felt and still feel very connected to him, as does my dad, seeing that this was his dad, you know, the guy that created him and raised him. I don't know if you are aware of it, but the WWII ended in 1945, and when you consider the link between generations, that really isn't very long ago. You're "fight the power" attitude is also quite misplaced, as this more relates to personal feelings. That states use memorials as a way of controlling it's people, doesn't change this.
What this comes down to is making a judgment call whether or not something will deeply offend someone, or hurt their feelings. This probably would, so I personally wouldn't hit it. Shea might have his reasons, and I think nothing less of him for hitting it, as I can only speak for myself.