House OKs Arlington Cemetery Burial Rules

WASHINGTON – The House moved Monday to legally clarify who can be buried at Arlington Cemetery and give the president new powers to waive eligibility requirements for those who make extraordinary contributions to the armed forces.

The legislation, approved by a voice vote, generally codifies regulations already put in place by the U.S.
Army, which runs the national burial grounds. It now goes to the Senate for action.

In particular, it states that reservists with 20 years of service would qualify for burial at Arlington even
if they die before they are 60 years old, the current eligibility age.

That became an issue after the Pentagon initially denied burial to Charles Burlingame, a former Navy pilot
who was captain of the American Airlines plane that hijackers crashed into the Pentagon September 11, 2001. The Army later reversed that decision.

Also eligible under the legislation would be National Guard and reserve members who die while on training duty.

Burial at Arlington has traditionally been reserved for those who die on active duty, military retirees and retired reservists who reach age 60, winners of the military's highest decorations and former prisoners of war. Their spouses also qualify.

Also buried on the site, next to the Pentagon and overlooking the Potomac River, are presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard TaftChief  Justice Earl Warren, the Challenger astronauts, explorer Robert Perry and novelist Dashiell Hammett. Sixty-five of those killed at the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks are buried there.

Administrators at the 200-acre grounds have warned that the cemetery, now the final resting place of 275,000, will run out of burial plots by 2025. Planners hope that a recent decision to expand by 60 acres will add 35
years to the life of the cemetery.

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