June 10, 2020

Duckworth Introduces Bill to Preserve Integrity of Arlington National Cemetery


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today introduced legislation to prohibit a President or Vice President who never served in the U.S. Armed Forces from being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Senator’s proposal comes after the U.S. Army recently recommended restricting eligibility for burial at the hallowed ground to fewer Veterans and servicemembers while expanding eligibility to all Presidents and Vice Presidents, regardless of service records.

Arlington National Cemetery is sacred ground for those who gave their lives to defend and protect this nation,” said Duckworth. “Sadly, as the number grows, it’s becoming clear that if Arlington National Cemetery is to continue operating as an active burial ground that honors those sacrifices well into the future, eligibility requirements must be restricted. This legislation makes sure that no burial space should be reserved for individuals who are not servicemembers or Veterans – even if he or she served as President or Vice President of the United States.”

The U.S. Army recently recommended restricting eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery to combat Veterans and U.S. servicemembers killed in action, in an effort to sustain it for the next 150 years. However, the Army proposal included one glaring recommendation that would expand eligibility beyond even today’s standards: allowing Presidents and Vice Presidents who never served in the U.S. Armed Forces to be buried there – taking the place of actual Veterans who served in uniform and their family members. This expansion was not included in the recommendations issued by the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery (ACANC) in its December 2018 report. In fact, it is contrary to the spirit of the ACANC’s eligibility recommendations—and appears to have been made without consulting the Committee that was set-up to draft proposed changes to Arlington—which recommended “that eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery be changed to more specifically identify with and honor the level of service and sacrifice.”