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Arlington National Cemetery Is Running Out of Land

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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 .

 

Special Privileges Reserved for Medal of Honor Awardees

MOH

By Debbie Gregory.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

On December 9, 1861, Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced Senate Bill No. 82 to “promote the efficiency of the Navy” by authorizing the production and distribution of   “medals of honor.” Less than two weeks later, the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced “which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War).” Similar bills were introduced and passed to honor service members from other branches.

Sadly, the award is often bestowed posthumously to fallen heroes in recognition for their extraordinary acts of valor. Living Medal of Honor recipients are given the following special privileges and special benefits:

  • Special Medal of Honor pension of $1,303.51 per month above and beyond any military pensions or other benefits for which they may be eligible, including cost-of-living increases
  • Special entitlements to Space A air transportation (travel on aircraft under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Defense when excess capability allows)
  • Enlisted recipients are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance
  • Commissary and exchange privileges (includes eligible dependents)
  • Admission to U.S. military academies, without nomination and quota requirements, for qualified children of recipients
  • A 10 percent increase in retired pay
  • Medal of Honor Flag
  • Permission to wear the uniform any time, as long as the standard restrictions are observed
  • Medal of Honor automobile license plates in states where they are available
  • Interment at Arlington National Cemetery if not otherwise eligible

One footnote: Medal of Honor recipients are just that, recipients. They are not winners, because they didn’t win their medals, they earned them.

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