Statement from The National WWII Museum President and CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, in response to loss of veteran and other public access due to the government shutdown

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The shutdown of many federally supported museums and parks prompted the release of a statement by our Museum that, as an independent nonprofit, we are not subject to the federal government's shutdown process and that our doors remain open to visitors.

Today I am moved to express deep concern as a result of news that dozens of Mississippi veterans traveling to Washington, D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial were allowed access to this wonderful site only as a result of extraordinary steps by a few federal officials – and that other veteran groups traveling to visit the Memorial in coming days now see their plans in jeopardy. In addition, as a statement from the American Battle Monuments Commission makes clear, ABMC cemeteries around the world where thousands of Americans who died defending our freedoms will be temporarily closed due to the government shutdown. As a result, many Americans who long ago made costly arrangements to visit these sites and other memorials managed by the ABMC may now see these plans dashed.

I find this circumstance simply unacceptable, an unnecessary and terrible disruption for citizens who have every right to visit the Memorial and other sites that honor more than 16 million Americans who served in uniform in this war that changed the world, including more than 400,000 who perished in this historic struggle.

Our institution would like to extend a cordial invitation to anyone denied access to the Memorial in Washington or to other commemorative sites to travel to New Orleans and take advantage of our exhibits and programs, if a change in plans proves feasible. A special invitation is extended to any individuals associated with the Honor Flight Network who now fear they will not be allowed access to the Memorial in Washington. We offer free admission to all WWII veterans and commit ourselves every day to exploring the American experience in World War II. A visit to our institution can serve as meaningful alternative.

I also believe the current political impasse in Washington presents an opportunity to reflect on the values and actions of the WWII generation. These great Americans faced unprecedented challenges at a time of sharp political conflict. But they worked through partisan differences in the spirit of "we're all in this together," and went on to achieve great things. We can again today. I hope that our nation's leaders will be able to find common ground and resolution quickly, and that all sites commemorating our nation's history and aspirations can resume normal operations.