Unless the Army comes up with strict new rules about who can be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families will be completely full in 25 years.
Every year, about 7,000 people are buried at the cemetery, where 420,000 veterans and their relatives are already interred. The Army wants to be able to bury people at Arlington for 150 more years, but it can't get any bigger because of highways and development. One proposal is extremely strict: Allow burials only for service members killed in action or those who have received the Medal of Honor, The New York Times reports.
Right now, Arlington is open to veterans who have served long enough to retire from the military; troops who were wounded in battle, given the three highest awards for valor, or died while on active duty; prisoners of war; and civilians who held high-level government posts, plus their spouses and dependents. "I don't know if it's fair to go back on a promise to an entire population of veterans," John Towles, legislative deputy director for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told the Times. "Let Arlington fill up with people who have served their country. We can create a new cemetery that, in time, will be just as special." The Army is conducting a survey of public opinion, and will make formal recommendations this fall.