The Columbarium

In April 1980, the first 5,000-niche section of Arlington National Cemetery’s Columbarium for cremated remains was opened for use. Eventually, 50,000 niches will be provided. The Columbarium is in the southeast section of the Cemetery about half a mile from the Memorial Gate.


Because of space limitation, ground burial in Arlington is quite restricted. The criteria for the Columbarium is more liberal, and extended to all honorably discharged veterans. Specifically, those qualifying for inurnment include:

Any member of the Armed Forces who dies on active duty Any former member of the armed forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and whose last service ended honorably Certain reservists and ROTC members who die while on active duty; while training or on authorized travel, or while hospitalized as the result of active duty, training or authorized travel American members of allied forces whose last service ended honorably Certain commissioned officers of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) or the U.S. Public Health Service. The spouse or unmarried minor or permanently dependent child of any of the above, or of any person already in the Columbarium. A student qualifies up to age 23.

Those Not Eligible

Parents, brothers, sisters, or in-laws — even if they live with, or are dependents of, an eligible person. A person whose last separation from the armed forces was under less-than-honorable conditions, even though he or she may receive veteran’s benefits. A person who has volunteered for the armed forces but has not entered upon active duty. A remarried former spouse of a deceased service member (unless the remarriage is terminated by divorce from or death of the second spouse).

Dependents are not eligible unless the primary eligible person has been, or will be inurned in the Columbarium. This does not apply to cases where the primary eligible has been lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be permanently missing, or missing in action.

Columbarium Plaques

Each niche, which accommodates no more than two urns, is sealed with a marble plaque inscribed with the names, highest military grades and years of birth and death of those inurned. The plaques are automatically ordered when inurnment is requested and are provided at no cost. Neither flowers nor other commemorative items are allowed in the Columbarium.

Courtesy of the Military District of Washington

For Photos of the Columbarium, Please Click Here

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