The survivors of five civilian Pentagon employees killed in last month's terrorist attack have been refused permission to bury their relatives in Arlington National Cemetery.
With space at one of the nation's best-known burial sites filling up, there are tight rules about who can be laid to rest there.
Active military duty personnel, military retirees, reserves personnel receiving retirement pay, presidents and former presidents, recipients of the Medal of Honor and the military's other highest decorations, and former prisoners of war may be buried at the 612-acre site.
Spouses and dependent children of eligible military personnel also are qualified, as are spouses of those lost at sea or missing in action.
Members of Congress, the vice president, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries and ranking diplomats who completed military service are also eligible. And the inurnment of cremated remains at Arlington is allowed for all honorably discharged veterans and their immediate family members.
Exceptions to those rules can be granted by the secretary of the Army, which runs the cemetery, or, in some cases, the president. Only a couple hundred waivers have ever been granted.
The families of five victims of the September 11 attack on the Defense Department headquarters had asked for waivers for their otherwise ineligible relatives, said Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd. Army Secretary Thomas White denied all of them.
Among the factors were Arlington's extremely limited space and the denials of similar requests from the families of civilian Defense Department employees killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Rudd said.
Of the 125 people inside the Pentagon who died in the terrorist attack, many were not active military personnel, but civilian contractors, secretaries and others.
Remains have not been identified for a few believed lost in the attack, meaning other waiver requests are possible. Requests cannot be processed without a death certificate.
With more than 5,400 people interred there each year, Arlington is expected to run out of burial space in about 2025 if not expanded.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard