Arlington Cemetary

Sometime in the early 21st Century, there will be no more space for burials at Arlington National Cemetary–even with the new, more demanding rules. What should be done when that happens? Would it be practical to buy more land to add to the cemetary (possibly from Fort Myer?) or should the U.S. build a second national cemetary somewhere else?

“Interested in fashion, Harmonica?”
“There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets…”
Once Upon A Time In The West

There are currently 5 new National cemetaries in various stages of construction:
Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington
Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, Texas
Saratoga National Cemetery, Albany, New York
Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, Illinois
Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Rittman, Ohio

The trend in many “mostly-filled, desirable” cemetaries is to institute a “cremated remains only” policy. This would afford Arlington something like a 50-1 savings in real estate needed per vet as opposed to casket burials.

I haven’t heard that Arlington is thinking of going to a “cremations only” policy, though. I have heard that they’re considering expanding – don’t remember how exactly – possibly into Fort Myers. Also, most veteran’s graves have room for more than one body, so even when Arlington is full a widow or eligible son, daughter, etc. could be added.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Arlington does not have such a policy, or at least it didn’t in 1995, when my grandfather was buried there.

I don’t think it would be possible for a government-run cemetery to have a cremation-only policy, since some religions forbid cremation. It would be the equivalent of allowing burial ceremonies from certain religious traditions, but forbidding others.

Thank’s Fretful. It’s the obvious points that escape me. I’m sure the cemetaries I heard about were not multi-denominational ones like Arlington.

Still, might there not be a way to encourage those without such religious objections to choose cremation?

According to the tour guide I heard at Arlington National Cemetary last summer, when the cemetary becomes full in the next century, it will become a National Shrine and another National Cemetary will open (see post above).

Of course, she could’ve been lying.

I’ve been in Fort Myer and there’s plenty of room on that post. More than needs to be, considering there’s not too many units stationed there, and the ones that are have mostly ceremonial and maintenance and administrative duties. So expansion into Fort Myer would be no national dilemma. If they do that and be more disciplined about the larger memorials (which they haven’t been), there’s enough room there for another 100 years at least.

And barely a mile down the road is the Army and Navy Country Club which the nation can surely do without. It’s not like there aren’t at least a dozen other golf courses in the immediate area. The units stationed at Fort Myer could be moved there.

I vehemently disagree that new national cemeteries in well-known pilgrimage destinations like Elwood, Illinois and Rittman, Ohio is the answer. Arlington IS a national shrine, and should continue to be THE repository for the remains of America’s best.

What is this, cemetery snobbery?
Are you somehow implying that the honor of being buried in a National Cemetary is any less because it’s not in Washington? That the accomodations are somehow 2nd class? Perhaps you could talk to the veterans who don’t qualify for Arlington and tell them you vehemently disapprove of their final resting place.

FYI, this from the catalog of federal domestic assistance: Interments in fiscal year 1997 totaled 73,007. Estimate of interments for fiscal year 1998 is 76,200, and for fiscal year 1999, 79,000. There are 115 operating national cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Of this number, 57 have space available for casketed and cremated remains; 34 have space available for the casketed interment of eligible family members of those already interred at the cemetery, and for cremated remains; and 24 have space available only for the interment of eligible family members of those already interred.

Say what you like about Elroy, IL, but I will cherish the honor of being able to bury my father in The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery when his time comes. Maybe not as well-known a pilgrimage destination as Arlington, but it sure beats a farmer’s field in Normandy.

I don’t think that “eligible family members” should be planted in what were intended to be the resting places for battle-casualties and battle-veterans. If this were the majority opinion, cemetery overpopulation wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

In addition, a guy who (for example) fueled airplanes at some air base in Iceland for 20 years (however honorably) should be excluded from interrment at Arlington.

The crush of bodies you refer to is the WW2 generation, croaking. In 10 years or so it won’t be as many.

And to answer your question
“Are you somehow implying that the honor of being buried in a National Cemetary is any less because it’s not in Washington?”,
the answer is: you betcha. Arlington is the top banana (it’s certainly no place for campaign donors). I’d love to be buried there. Not very likely at all.

And if your dad was a vet of the Normandy invasion (as you imply) his mortal remains, by all that is right and just, belong at Arlington.

I’m stunned. On Memorial day, we have someone who is going to tell us veterans not buried at Arlington are somehow 2nd class.
What a shame.

Sorry, ya’ll. RTA, ITA.

RTA, any person who dies on active duty, or any retired veteran can be buried at a national cemetary – not just “battle-casualties and battle- veterans.” Non-veteran wives and children are buried in the same grave as the veteran – so they aren’t taking up resting places designated for others. And if Arlington were full, a veteran could choose to be interred with his/her grandfather or mother. My Dad (who, as a retired vet would qualify for his own plot) and Mom are thinking about being cremated and sharing a gravesite (and tombstone) with her father (a WWI vet) at the Ft. Rosecrans Veterans Cemetary here in San Diego. The Ft. Rosecrans cemetary still has openings for new graves, but Mom and Dad like the idea of being with my Grandad. BTW, my husband says he heard that Arlington is in the process of approving the purchase of 20 new acres to expand into. He’s going to look at his office next week and see if he can find a cite.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Arlington National Cemetary isn’t in Washington–it’s in Arlington, VA. Of course it doesn’t help that in press conferences at the Pentagon you see the sign in the background that erroneously states it is in Washington.

We may have won the Civil War, thank God, but we haven’t annexed Arlington County into the District of Columbia.

“Interested in fashion, Harmonica?”
“There were three dusters like these waiting for a train.
Inside the dusters were three men. Inside the men were
three bullets…”
Once Upon A Time In The West

Don’t put words in my mouth … I never said that “veterans not buried at Arlington are somehow 2nd class.” What I said was that Arlington is THE shrine.
Veterans (and I happen to be one) can have their ashes thrown into the Ganges for all I care. But as long as the USA is around, those buried at Arlington will always receive a little extra “hallowing” on their “ground”. That’s just the way it is.

Member posted 05-31-99 09:08 PM

We haven’t annexed it again. What now constitutes Arlington County, Virginia, had been ceded to the Federal government but was returned to Virginia. I think Virginia was upset that “their” portion hadn’t received the development that the Maryland contribution received.

An aside: there are no cities in Arlington County. Having lived there for four years, I’m still amused that some folks think Crystal City is actually in incorporated city.

It’s my understanding that Arlington National Cemetary is made up of land confiscated from Robert E. Lee and his family during or after the Civil War. Although the land may be owned by the Federal Government, it is still within the borders of the sovereign (yeah, I know) state of Virginia.

It was during the Civil War.
The U.S. Quartermaster, Montgomery Meigs, was tasked by Lincoln with coming up with burial space for all the dead Yankees. Lee’s estate was large and close.
Planting the first row of dead right outside Lee’s front door was to him an act of poetic justice (especially since he had just lost his own son in battle). Lee’s house still stands.
Oh, and it’s the “Commonwealth” of Virginia … Arlington Cemetery’s federal land though.

What’s this?

What does your qualification “however honorably” mean? Nothing, because you say in the very same breath “not quite important enough for burial at Arlington; better stick this guy (or gal) somewhere less honorable.” And lest I be accused of manufacturing those words, here they are:

So, in your own words, the men and women of our armed forces who are buried in the 114 National Cemeteries that are not Arlington have been treated less honorably by their government, friends and family. I think there are probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who would disagree with this horribly arrogant assessment. In light of the sad fact there is not enough room at Arlington, (which might explain the 114 other Nat’l cemeteries already operating) the suggestion that being buried elsewhere is less honorable is an insult of the highest order.
(To those “it’s not in Washington” people: you’re picking fly shit out of black pepper).

You’re the one who freely tosses around the phrase “second class” (first it was the “accomodations”, then -leap- the “veterans”). I don’t apply that phrase to dead servicemen.

Re: my theoretical example of the guy who fueling planes in Iceland for 20 years, retires, dies years later - since he had not served in a combat zone, that guy should not be interred at Arlington before, or instead of, a person who had served in a combat zone. IMHO (and if you still have a problem with THAT, I can’t help you).

My original point remains, that just because there might be a strip mall across the street, that shouldn’t hinder the DOD from expanding Arlington Cemetery. As long as the USA keeps turning out dead soldiers (particularly combat dead), there SHOULD be space for them at Arlington.

I can’t help but think that this issue and your feelings for your aging father are closely linked in your mind, and that is why I think I should probably abandon this discussion with you at this time.