Arlington National Cemetery is a shrine that honors our military.
But on this Memorial Day, it’s facing a dilemma. It's running out of room, and is now considering restricting who can be buried there.
“Arlington National Cemetery is just so special. Around here we say every day is Memorial Day,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, the executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries. “Without a change, every veteran who served in a Gulf War conflict, that's Iraq, Afghanistan and all the other conflicts we've been in since then, will not have the honor of coming here, even if they're medal of honor recipients."
The cemetery holds more than 7,000 burials a year, or about 30 a day.
With aging veterans and on-going conflicts, the cemetery is running out room and, if nothing changes, they'll run out of space in the next twenty years or so. Unable to expand much more, the cemetery is now looking at putting new restrictions on who can be buried there.
On its website, the cemetery is now taking a surveyasking the public for input on which veterans should get priority. For example: those killed in action, retired veterans, or those who received high honors, like a Purple Heart or Medal of Valor.
“Anybody can take it. It's very narrowly focused, saying what do people want us to do." Said Durham-Aguilera.
With your help, Arlington National Cemetery wants to make sure it's ready and able to honor the next generation. “It's not just for that current generation of gulf war and beyond veterans, but that five-year-old who one day is going to raise his or her hand and say I want to serve this nation. We want to make sure we have options available for them," said Durham-Aguilera.