Arlington National Cemetery Is Running Out of Land

MCArlington

Arlington National Cemetery Is Running Out of Land

By Debbie Gregory

Arlington National Cemetery has a finite amount of land, and it will reach burial capacity in less than 25 years unless changes are made.

Some options being considered to avoid reaching capacity include redefining eligibility criteria and availing alternative approaches such as new burial techniques or increased use of above-ground interment.

Since it was established during the Civil War, 400,000 people have been buried at the cemetery from every major American conflict. The Department of the Army controls the 624-acre cemetery.

There are only two variables that affect the future of Arlington National Cemetery: available land and the rate at which burials are requested.

Currently, the cemetery conducts up to 40 burials a week.

Based on the amount of land available, the cemetery will close for new burials in 23 years if nothing changes.

There is a possibility of expansion south of the cemetery, which will add some 40 acres and 10-15 years of accommodation.

“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.

Following the publication of the Report to Congress on the Capacity at Arlington National Cemetery, respondents provided their opinions on the future of Arlington National Cemetery.

The overall response revealed that in order to keep Arlington open for as long as possible, many of them would be in favor of tightening up the eligibility to limit interment to 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.

Respondents said that the cemetery, a symbol of military service and sacrifice, would need to undergo an overhaul of eligibility requirements in order to extend the future of active burials beyond 2055.

The leadership at Arlington has launched a more in-depth survey regarding eligibility for interment at Arlington Cemetery. If you would like to share your opinion, you can participate in the survey at https://bit.ly/2rsRAFW .