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Shutdown Prevents Family from Visiting Veteran’s Grave

PEORIA - The consequences of the federal shutdown reach far beyond U.S. borders. Unfortunately, the Birkner family is learning that the hard way.
PEORIA - 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 very keen on keeping up with family history.
She carries a 1917 photo is of her great uncle, who was a veteran. Anton Birkner passed away 95 years ago during World War I.  
Anton Birkner is buried in the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in France. Michele's sister and brother-in-law just left for France this week. But Tuesday’s announcement of a government shutdown is getting in the way of their trip.
"It said that all the monuments and American cemeteries overseas were to be closed," she said of an email she received from the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The shutdown could not happen at a worse time. 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,” she said. “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 that this, but this was really important to us as a family to pay our respects, and now we probably aren't going to get to," said Birkner.  
When her great uncle died, 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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