Arlington National Cemetery will be full in 25 years if the number of burials remains steady.
The military cemetery, which buries about 7,000 veterans a year, is running out of space. The grounds have little room to expand, surrounded by highways and city development.
“We’re literally up against a wall,” Barbara Lewandrowski, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army, told The New York Times on Monday. The wall, which separates the cemetery from the outside world, is being used to hold cremated remains. (RELATED: A Memorial Day Message From The Men Who Guard The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier)
Currently, any veteran who died in active duty or is retired from the army and served active duty with an honorable discharge can be buried in Arlington.
The Army is considering new proposals that would limit the amount of people who can be buried at Arlington. Suggestions include limiting those buried to those injured in combat or those who received a Silver Star or above, Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, testified to congress in March.
“The cemetery will reach maximum capacity in the early 2040s,” Durham-Aguilera said.
Several groups oppose these potential new rules. “I don’t know if it’s fair to go back on a promise to an entire population of veterans,” said John Towles, legislative deputy director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. The organization has 1.7 million members.
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