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Shutdown prompts museum invitation to veterans

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3 2013 7:18 a.m. MDT

In this July 24, 2012 photo, examples of faces based on real people that Nazi doctors and scientists used as a guide for creating their master race photos are on display at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.  (The Times-Picayune, Chris Granger) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; USA TODAY OUT, Associated Press) In this July 24, 2012 photo, examples of faces based on real people that Nazi doctors and scientists used as a guide for creating their master race photos are on display at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. (The Times-Picayune, Chris Granger) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; USA TODAY OUT, Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS — The head of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans is extending an invitation to veterans groups that might find themselves unable to hold planned events at federal memorial sites or parks due to the government shutdown.

Museum chief executive Gordon H. Mueller notes in a statement that the museum — and independent nonprofit operation — is not subject to the federal government shutdown.

World War II veterans from Mississippi and Iowa were, for a time, kept out of the World War II Memorial in Washington. Now, the National Park Service is making provisions to allow veterans groups into the memorial, but national parks and other commemorative sites remain closed.

"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," Mueller said in an emailed statement.

Robert Rosendahl, left, of Springfield, Mo., shares stories with WWII veteran volunteer Tom Blakey, at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.  (Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press) Robert Rosendahl, left, of Springfield, Mo., shares stories with WWII veteran volunteer Tom Blakey, at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press)

That invitation comes amid growing worries over the effects the shutdown will have on the state's economy. In the New Orleans area, for instance, tourists were denied access to some historical sites.

"If leisure visitors ask, we are advising them that it is business-as-usual with the exception of a few attractions," said Kelly Schulz of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We assure them that thousands of restaurants, museums, music clubs and cultural attractions and are open and operating normally," Schulz said.

Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said the shutdown was going to have a big effect on agriculture and commerce.

"Right now, there are no health certificates being issued for exporting livestock, domestic animals and embryos," he said in a statement. "Louisiana is one of the biggest exporters of products that require international health certificates." Furloughs of federal employees would also mean less monitoring for diseases and will likely lead to delays in processing applications for legal migrant farm laborers, he said.

In this July 24, 2012 photo, images of children who were part of medical experiments led by the Nazis are on display at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The traveling U.S.  (The Times-Picayune, Chris Granger) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; USA TODAY OUT, Associated Press) In this July 24, 2012 photo, images of children who were part of medical experiments led by the Nazis are on display at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The traveling U.S. (The Times-Picayune, Chris Granger) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; USA TODAY OUT, Associated Press)

As in other states, people who run various programs aiding the elderly and the poor in Louisiana were worried the shutdown may affect them.

Harold Rodgers director of the New Orleans Council on Aging, said funds for the council's meals programs could run out if the shutdown stretches beyond the middle of this month. The funding covers roughly 410 meals daily at community sites such as senior centers and another 425 "Meals on Wheels" daily for seniors who can't make it to the community sites.

Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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