A quiet plot of land 17 kilometers northwest of Bayeux, France, serves as one of the most unlikely victims of the U.S. Government shutdown. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial serves as the grave for 9,387 American military dead, and on Oct. 1, it was closed to any and all visitors for the duration of the government shutdown.
The gravesite in Normandy wasn’t the only cemetery to close. The American Battle Monuments Commission preserves the graves of 125,000 American war dead, maintaining 24 cemeteries in 10 different foreign countries. Every one of these cemeteries was forced to shut its gates to the public. This means veterans and relatives of the deceased won’t be able to pay their respects at places like the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia, or the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines. These cemeteries commemorate military service members who lost their lives largely in WWI and WWII, in actions ranging from D-Day to the liberation of southeast Asia.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial attracts more than one million visitors a year, and was featured in the end of the film “Saving Private Ryan.” According to the notice posted on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s website, the cemeteries “will resume normal operations when a new funding measure is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President of the United States.”