[HEALTH.MIL] A New Arlington Cemetery

  • From: HEALTH.MIL Mailing List
  • To: <TFL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:53:11 -0500

A New Arlington Cemetery
By Jim Cooper Washington, Published: August 12

Just across the Potomac River from Washington is a thriving city of the dead.
Despite the recent scandals involving the mishandling of remains, more than
7,000 veterans choose Arlington National Cemetery every year as their final
resting place.

That's 20 funerals a day. Demand is higher than anytime since the 1960s, partly
because of the passing of World War II veterans and partly because Arlington is
even more popular with younger generations of veterans.

There are already more than 260,000 graves and niches on Arlington's 620 acres
of beautiful rolling hills. Unfortunately, however, America's most hallowed
ground is rapidly running out of space. Without opening up more land, Arlington
will have no room for cremated remains by 2016, or for casket burials by 2025. 

To avert closure, cemetery officials are planning another columbarium and two
expansions that could extend the life of Arlington until 2035 or beyond. Each
land deal, however, is problematic.

The first proposed expansion is the so-called Millennium Project, a pompous name
for a small sloping field and large wooded ravine at the western edge of the
cemetery. This property lies below Fort Myer, the base of operations for the
Army's Old Guard and several four-star generals.

The Army Corps of Engineers is about to bring in bulldozers before deciding
exactly how the Millennium Project site will be used. This is the Corps' second
attempt. Storm water runoff from Fort Myer is so bad that the Corps has already
installed a million-gallon underground storage tank to minimize the erosion of
graves. Another concern is the old-growth forest in the steep ravine that
borders the cemetery. Depending on how many trees are cut, this 32-acre site
could add four to eight years to the life of the cemetery.

The second expansion site is the 42-acre hilltop next to the Air Force Memorial.
Now occupied by the Navy Annex, a large 1940s office complex, this land lies
across busy Columbia Pike from the cemetery. Moving the highway and demolishing
a million square feet of offices could add about 10 years to Arlington's life.

But no matter what is done, Arlington Cemetery cannot keep growing forever.
Today's efforts to squeeze more yield out of existing acreage and to grab
neighboring parcels are, at best, temporary solutions. After that, there is no
more land to be had, unless the cemetery takes over all of Fort Myer or begins
crowding the Iwo Jima Memorial.

It's time to give serious thought to a new national cemetery, perhaps at a
battlefield such as Gettysburg, Antietam or Manassas, or a prestigious site like
Quantico, Annapolis, West Point or even the National Arboretum.

Today's veterans should be able to choose their place of honor and eternal rest.
They have earned it. But tomorrow's volunteers also deserve that right. Do
today's veterans want to occupy marginal ground at extraordinary cost? Or do
they want a new home, a new Arlington, which could be every bit as magnificent
as Robert E. Lee's former plantation?

Veterans should decide soon: Will Arlington be enhanced or diminished by today's
expansions? The Millennium ravine was deemed unfit for burials for 150 years; no
amount of engineering will change that. The Navy Annex is a valuable Defense
Department asset for today's fight. In addition, no one is asking how much these
expansions will cost. Do veterans want to be interred where taxpayers must pay a
fortune for each grave or niche? Is that patriotic?

Some are talking about an Arlington West so that veterans' families do not have
to travel 3,000 miles to visit their heroes. We also need a new Arlington East
sooner than we think. Perhaps it's time to establish two new national cemeteries
to honor both our heroes of the past - and of the future. 

The writer, a Democrat, represents Tennessee's 5th Congressional District in the
U.S. House of Representatives.

(NOTE:  Rep Cooper may be contacted at http://cooper.house.gov/ or by telephone
at 202-225-4311)

SOURCE:  Washington Post article accessed via Army Stand-To! Newsletter, 15 Aug
11, at

== HEALTH.MIL Mailing List ==

1.  The following options may be used to join\leave this mailing list:

    a.  ONLINE OPTION:  Online subscription\unsubscription options are 
available at:


    b.  E-MAIL OPTION:  Subscription\unsubscription may be performed by sending 
an E-Mail message to the following address:

        (1)  To subscribe to this mailing list, send an E-Mail message to 
HEALTH.MIL-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'subscribe' as the subject.

        (2)  To unsubscribe, send an E-Mail message to 
HEALTH.MIL-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' as the subject.

2.  If the above subscribe or unsubscribe procedures don't work or if you have 
questions, comments, etc., about this mailing list, please contact 

Other related posts:

  • » [HEALTH.MIL] A New Arlington Cemetery - HEALTH . MIL Mailing List