112th Congress: 2011-2012
To amend title 38, United States Code, to codify the prohibition against the reservation of gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jon Runyan [R-NJ3]
This legislation is long overdue. It will finally prohibit, in law, the insider practice of allowing certain high-ranking military members and other VIPs to pre-select their gravesites. This practice was banned by Army policy in 1962 – nearly 50 years ago – yet cemetery administrators continued to arbitrarily allow some to skirt the rules. Burial at Arlington National Cemetery is a tremendous honor that depends on honorable service, not rank. It is obvious that greater accountability and transparency is needed, so we appreciate language in this bill that requires a full audit and a report back to Congress.
AMVETS supports H.R. 1441, to amend Title 38, United States Code, to codify the prohibition against the reservation of gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, and for other purposes.
Under title 32 U.S.C., Chapter V, Section 553, Subsection 553.18 (a), the present policy of the Department of the Army, only one gravesite is authorized for the burial of a service member and eligible family members. Furthermore, 5553.18(b) states that gravesites may not be reserved. However, it has been brought to attention of AMVETS that “de facto reservations” of plots were still being made in direct violation to the Army’s policy of prohibition of reservations established in 1962. According to Kathryn Condon, the executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, as of March 2011 there were 3,500 reservations on file, although it is unclear how many of those 3,500 are valid. AMVETS finds this to be unacceptable and disgraceful, given the importance of what Arlington National Cemetery is tasked with. Moreover, while AMVETS completely understands the esteem and honor of being interned at Arlington National Cemetery, we find it objectionable for any person to go against the Army’s 1962 regulation prohibiting of burial site reservations and to reserve a site that just might be needed for someone who perishes in combat tomorrow. Furthermore, AMVETS believes H.R. 1441 stands to codify the Army’s regulation and also stands to provide accountability and transparency to the process. One’s status in life should not determine their eligibility of internment over anyone else’s. Once again, AMVETS supports H.R. 1441 and further urges congress to have the strictest of oversight in the implementation of the electronic tracking system at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as the reservation review process, currently taking place at Arlington National Cemetery.