Plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery are causing controversy.
Leaders at the cemetery say that unless it is expanded, there will be no more room to bury deceased veterans within 12 years. The plan to add 27 acres to the cemetery, called the Millennium Project, is being criticized because it would damage a stream and eliminate trees that have been standing since the Civil War. Critics of the project also say that the expansion would not fit the historic site.
Proposals for the Millennium Project come on the heels of the cemetery creating a new area where more than 20,000 cremated remains can be stored. Had that space not been added, it’s been estimated that the cemetery would run out of niche space by 2016.
Some are saying that cemetery officials should just accept that it will eventually be full and start planning accordingly. Arlington attracts more than four million visitors a year, and includes the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers, U.S. presidents and thousands of others who served the country, WJLA reported.
“I love Arlington. But it’s not big enough for all future wars,” said Rep. Jim Cooper a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “It seems like we need to be preparing for Arlington Two, making sure it’s just as nice and wonderful and historical as Arlington One.”
The executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, Kathryn Condon, believes that the Millennium Project must be considered, and soon. “This is important because if we do nothing today, we will run out of in-ground burial space in 2025.”
No matter what happens, some feel that the closing of the cemetery to future burials is inevitable. “Eventually, Arlington is going to close because there is no more space. That’s a given,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “We want Arlington to continue to serve as the final resting place for all of our nation’s fallen warriors for as long as it possibly can. His group supports the proposed expansions.