"The strictest proposal the Army is considering would allow burials only for service members killed in action or awarded the military’s highest decoration for heroism, the Medal of Honor. Under those restrictions, Arlington would probably conduct fewer burials in a year than it does right now in a single week.
A policy like that would exclude thousands of currently eligible combat veterans and career officers who risked their lives in the service and who planned to be buried in Arlington among their fallen comrades.
“I don’t know if it’s fair to go back on a promise to an entire population of veterans,” said John Towles, a legislative deputy director for Veterans of Foreign Wars who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The group, with 1.7 million veterans, has adamantly opposed the new restrictions.
“Let Arlington fill up with people who have served their country,” said Mr. Towles, who is eligible under current rules because he was wounded in battle. “We can create a new cemetery that, in time, will be just as special.”
Arlington is not the only place for military burials, of course. There are 135 national cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs across the country. But Arlington is by far the most prominent, and curtailing burial there would mean changing the site from an active cemetery into something closer to a museum.
The Army is conducting a survey of public opinion on the question through the summer, and expects to make formal recommendations in the fall."