Arlington National Cemetery Is Running Out of Land and Wants Your Help

marine decorates grave in arlington cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is running out of land.

Currently, the cemetery sits on 624 acres of land across the Potomac river from Washington, DC. The cemetery was established on land that once belonged to the step-grandson of George Washington and later, the wife of Robert E. Lee. 

The Army, who runs the cemetery, says that they will soon run out of space and Arlington National Cemetery will be closed to future burials. Congress has directed the Army to come up with a plan to keep the cemetery open as long as possible.

Land At Arlington Is Limited

There are only two basic factors that affect the life of Arlington National Cemetery - available land and the rate at which burials are requested. Arlington's location more than four miles inside of the Capital Beltway limits the amount of expansion available to only a few small parcels of land, and at the current rate of services, each acre will only extend the life of the cemetery by three months.

This means that, based on the amount of land available and the current burial rate, the cemetery will close for new burials in 23 years if current eligibility policies remain in place. The next possible expansion, into the area south of the cemetery (the Southern Expansion; around 40 acres) will add about 10-15 years of life to the cemetery – closing the cemetery to new burials by the mid-2050’s.

“We continue our promise to publicly discuss this challenge in order to make the correct decision, but we cannot expand our way out of this problem,” said Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent Katharine Kelley.

Army Seeking Input On Limiting Eligibility For Interment At Arlington

In July 2017, the cemetery conducted a survey in partnership with several military and veteran organizations. More than 28,000 people responded to that survey and said that keeping Arlington open as long as possible is their primary concern. Those that responded also said that if eligibility for interment at Arlington is limited - those killed in action, Medal of Honor and other high award recipients, former POWs, and those active duty service members who die on operational missions should have a resting place at Arlington. 

After analyzing the results of first survey, cemetery leadership determined there was a need for further refinement of eligibility criteria.

With that in mind, they are conducting another survey with more in-depth questions regarding limiting eligibility for interment at Arlington Cemetery.

Please fill out the survey to help them in keeping this beautiful resting place for the nation's heroes open as long as possible.

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