Arlington National Cemetery nearing capacity: report
© Greg Nash

Arlington National Cemetery is getting close to capacity and may have to deny burial rights to most living veterans, The New York Times reported.

The cemetery is the final resting place for more than 420,000 veterans and relatives, according to the newspaper, and adds about 7,000 more annually. At such a rate, the cemetery will be full in 25 years.

The Army, which runs the cemetery, want to keep admitting new people to the cemetery for at least another 150 years, the Times noted.

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However, the cemetery is surrounded by highways and development, preventing it from expanding. This means rules for admission will have to tighten if the Army wants to keep admitting veterans in the long term.

According to the Times, the Army is considering a policy that would only allow veterans killed in action or those awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration for acts of valor, to be buried at Arlington.

With such standards, Arlington would bury fewer people in a year than it currently does in a week, the newspaper reported.

These kinds of restrictive changes are unpopular with veterans even though Army surveys show the public supports giving priority to those killed in battle or awarded the Medal of Honor, the Times reported.

The Army is carrying out a public opinion survey on the issue over the summer and plans to make a formal recommendation in the fall, according to the newspaper.

Arlington Cemetery is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was erected after World War I. Every Memorial Day, the sitting president lays a wreath at the tomb.