Sad, but not unexpected…

Arlington is filling up too fast as WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans pass away.

From Military Times

Veterans groups have opposed the idea of severely restricting eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery coming years to ensure the viability of the iconic
landmark for decades to come. But military officials said they don’t see another realistic choice. “We are filling up every single day,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive
director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “Within the next few years, Section 60 – known for the recent wars – will be closed. This is on our mind every day.” The 154-year-old cemetery, originally established as an overflow site for mounting Civil War casualties, has become one of the most hallowed military sites in America. More than 3 million visitors travel to the site annually, and more than 7,000 service members were interred at the cemetery in fiscal 2017 alone. But Army officials said only about 100,000 burial sites are left at the site, tucked between the Potomac River and the ever-growing northern Virginia suburbs. Expansion plans are expected to keep burials on
pace into the 2040s, but not much beyond that. That has prompted discussions of eligibility for burial at the site. Currently, most honorably discharged veterans can request Arlington Cemetery as their final resting place. Proposals under consideration by the service could restrict that to only troops killed in the line of duty and certain distinguished veterans, like Medal of Honor or Purple Heart recipients. Veterans groups told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the topic in September that they’re not in favor of such moves. “We should save a select number of spaces for those individuals, but not change the eligibility rules at the exclusion of those serving today,” said retired Col. Keith Zuegel, senior director at the Air Force Association. Officials from the Veterans of Foreign Wars,

Military Officers Association of America and American Legion expressed similar concerns with excluding thousands of veterans who may have been planning to use the national cemetery for their burials. But an Army survey conducted last year found wider support for more exclusive rules, with more than 60% in favor of restrictions that military planners say will keep the site viable well past 2100. A second survey on the issue will be conducted next spring. Durham-Aguilera said the current space crunch means that “a veteran from the 1991 Gulf War who lives to his or her normal life expectancy will not be able to be interred at Arlington.” Plans to add more above-ground burial sites and to carve out more space within the existing cemetery
boundaries will add some short-term relief, but not significantly help the problem. Several veterans groups suggested the possibility of adding a new national burial site
with the same “Arlington” name elsewhere in the National Capital region, saying it could avoid the eligibility fight and create a second national touchstone for deceased veterans. But lawmakers on the committee expressed skepticism that a new site would carry the same national importance, and expressed their preference that service members killed in the line of duty be ensured a place of honor at the current site
well into the future. “We should put a higher priority for those individuals at
Arlington,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. and a retired Air Force brigadier general. “It seems like that place should be reserved for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.” An advisory committee for the cemetery is expected to make its recommendations to Congress on the eligibility issue later this year.

This is a discussion issue that gets pretty divisive, especially within different groups of veterans. And the expansion of Arlington to encompass what used to be the Navy Annex up the hill won’t help that much. I don’t profess to have a good answer, and I’m not sure whether I’ll request Arlington or not.


Sad, but not unexpected… — 14 Comments

  1. Originally, my father’s requested resting place was in Arlington, that was in his active duty papers from 1945. He later changed his mind and went for the local veteran’s memorial, saying that he got to live, unlike too many others. For myself, my remains will be with my wife’s, in that same memorial plot.

  2. It is my personal belief that Arlington should from now on be reserved for those who died on duty, or as a direct result of injuries sustained in combat. It only has so much space, and is indeed special.

  3. I’m no eco-terrorist, but seems to me cemeteries are a horrible waste of good real estate.
    Wife and I will be cremated. Our ashes spread over childhood stomping grounds.
    (And the worms cry out in anguish.)

  4. Tweell- Understood.

    McC- That is one of the options that is being looked at for those after the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam vets who were ‘promised’ a place if they wanted.

    GB- It all depends on the point of view. I have a few friends at Arlington, some in actual graves, others in the stacks.

  5. Arlington.
    As of a couple of seconds ago when I checked, I am eligible for burial in Arlington, and that was my plan.
    But I’ve lately begun thinking much like McChuck and Greybeard.
    Of all the hallowed ground for our resting places, Arlington is the most hallowed, and I agree that it should be reserved for those killed on active duty.
    My tentative new plan is cremation, and having my ashes scattered at sea.
    I spent a fairly long time steaming across those oceans, and it seems fitting.
    (And now I have to go blow my nose because of, um, pollen, yeah, pollen.)

  6. Difficult. I will not be requesting Arlington — my family has a burial plot on a green hill not far from our farm, going back now 10 generations. But most of us don’t have that, and for many of us the only real family they ever had was and remains their brothers and sisters in their units.

  7. Mayhaps a two-fold or three-fold solution.

    Ground for heroes and in-combat deaths.

    Stacks for those wishing to be interred in a casket for those who don’t.

    Maybe even a crematorial ossiary for those selecting cremation.

    Or even, scatter ashes at Arlington and a plaque in a Hall of Remembrance.

    So that’s 4 solutions.

    Me? Burn and scatter. No need for me to occupy space and time.

  8. All- I can see many points. I too am eligible, but I’m going to be buried in the family plot in Louisiana. We’ve been there since the 1850’s and that’s fine by me.

    Posted from my iPhone.

  9. Hi Jim, I also will be forgoing my slot at Arlington and will be cremated and buried up on Boot Hill here on Block Island, with the rest of my ancestors going back to 1661!

  10. Mom is holding a spot in Section 60 for Dad. She died back in 1993.
    My Uncle Ray is over in Section 59.
    My Godparents in Section 66.

  11. Ev- Y’all got us by a few years… LOL, my family came over around the early 1700s, but it took a while to migrate to Louisiana!

    Stretch- Understood.

  12. Their options are:

    A) Continue accepting remains until full.

    B) Start restricting acceptance, which would undoubtedly turn political and acrimonious, particularly when “more deserving” remains are turned away while the plots are full of bodies that don’t meet current standards

    C) increase density by:
    ….1) stacking more than one deep
    ….2) building aboveground tombs or ossuaries
    ….3) disinterring, cremating, and reburying in smaller plots

    D) moving older/less deserving bodies somewhere else

    There are some places where this is a regular thing; after a thousand years or so wind up with a lot of bodies to deal with…

  13. Hey Old NFO;

    I think Arlington should be reserved for those that died in combat. There are plenty state or national cemeteries that we vets could be planted in if we choose.