Homer Kemp hoped to cross an item off his "bucket list." He planned to stand amidst the 9,387 headstones at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach and contemplate the sacrifice made by the buried American soldiers there who died in World War II.

"People have told me that it gives you a real profound experience standing there," Kemp said. "Almost a spiritual kind of thing."

But the cemetery was closed when Kemp, 72, his wife, Mary Tanner, and their friends, George and Martha Elder, all from the Chattanooga area, tried to visit on Thursday. Its gates were chained shut, and a sign said the shutdown was to blame.

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