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Army Plans to Limit Who Can Be Buried at Arlington

Under new rules, veterans would no longer automatically be eligible
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 26, 2019 2:28 AM CDT
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In this May 23, 2019 photo, members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, place flags in front of each headstone for "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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(Newser) – In an effort to save dwindling space, the Army is proposing new rules to limit who can be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Under the current rules, the cemetery, which dates to the Civil War, would run out of space by the mid-2050s, the Army says. The proposed restrictions would preserve the cemetery's lifespan for another 150 years. "Arlington National Cemetery is a national shrine for all Americans, but especially those who have served our great nation," Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said in a statement. "We must ensure it can honor those we have lost for many years to come." Under the proposals, veterans who retired from active duty and were eligible for retirement pay would no longer be automatically eligible for in-ground burial, the AP reports.

They would be eligible, though, for above-ground "inurnment" of cremated remains. Those who were killed in action or received awards such as the Purple Heart or Silver Star could still receive an in-ground burial. US presidents and vice presidents also would retain eligibility. More than 400,000 people are buried in the Army-run cemetery, and only 95,000 burial spaces remain, though a planned expansion will add 37 acres of burial space and more than 10 years of life to the cemetery under the existing rules. The proposed new rules will now be subjected to the federal rulemaking process and published in the Federal Register, which allows the public to submit comments. If the public comments prompt no revisions, the new rules could take effect in about nine months.

(Read more Arlington National Cemetery stories.)

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