Arlington National Cemetery wants to hear from Marines, other service members and veterans regarding a possible cemetery expansion that could encroach on the Marine Corps War Memorial.
The cemetery currently holds more than 7,000 funeral services a year, according to a survey Arlington National Cemetery is conducting on expansion options. At the current rate, the cemetery will reach its capacity in the next 25 years.
Two possible expansion projects are being considered, one of which would add 37 acres of now-private land near the Air Force Memorial and the now-closed Navy Annex, said cemetery spokeswoman Kerry Meeker.
If approved, the expansion would allow the cemetery to remain open through the mid-2050s, she said.
“Since the cemetery currently borders private neighborhoods, Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall, several highways and the Marine Corps War Memorial, any expansion effort would involve encroaching one of these bordering areas,” according to the survey, which asks people if they think the cemetery should be enlarged.
The survey does not elaborate on how the Marine Corps War Memorial or other bordering areas might be affected by the proposed project.
Dedicated on Nov. 10, 1954, the memorial shows Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 19, 1945. The scene was immortalized in a Pulitzer Prize-winning picture by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Arlington National Cemetery is conducting the survey as part of a national dialogue on whether to make the cemetery larger or change the eligibility requirements for who can be buried there, Meeker said.
“Input from our stakeholders — to include active duty service members, veterans, spouses, Congress, veterans and military service organizations and the general public — on expansion is very important to this national dialogue,” Meeker said.
The Marine Corps deferred comment on the matter to the National Park Service, which deferred comment to Arlington National Cemetery.