The consequences of the federal shutdown reach far beyond U.S. borders. Unfortunately, the Birkner family is learning that the hard way. Michelle Birkner and her relatives are keen on keeping up with family history. Her great uncle was a veteran a veteran of Wold War One.
"He passed away 105 years ago next week."
He's buried in the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in France. Michele's sister and brother-in-law just left for France this week, but then came the federal shutdown.
"It said that all the monuments and American cemeteries overseas were to be closed."
This could not have happened at a worse time for the Birkner family. No family member has ever been able to visit his grave.
"Well, it's disappointing because family is super important to us, and our grandfather and my dad always wanted to see his grave. We have the plot numbers, but we don't have a photo."
Birkner says the chances of any of her family going back to France are low. She hopes the shutdown lifts, so she can get that photo she always wanted.
"You know, this is affecting a lot of people vacation-wise and money-wise, and things that are perhaps more important than this, but this was really important to us as a family to pay our respects. Now, we probably aren't going to get to."
When Birkner's great uncle died, she says her family could not afford to transport his body back to America. Her sister and brother-in-law will leave France in three days. If the shutdown ends, they might be able to visit the grave site.
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