Arlington Cemetery Snarls Just Get Messier

Sunday, 27 Mar 2011 12:10 PM

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Officials at Arlington National Cemetery don’t know who has reserved plots in the 624-acre burial grounds and whether the plots are already filled. The revelation is the latest in a series of problems besetting the Arlington, W.Va., cemetery resting place for Medal of Honor winners, presidents, veterans, and family members, The Washington Post reports.

Army investigators discovered a host of problems last year at Arlington, including unmarked graves, bodies buried in the wrong plots, mass graves, and dumped remains. The scandal led to the ouster of the cemetery superintendent and his deputy, the Post reported.

However, other problems continue to crop up. Besides the fact that officials have no reliable data on how many reservations have been made, they also have discovered an unofficial reservation system for VIPs, the Post reports.

About 3,500 reservations are file but there could be more, acknowledged Kathryn Condon, director of the Army National Cemeteries Program. “As part of our accountability, we’re going to look at all of those reservations,” she told the Post.

The reservation system ended in 1962, and officials are uncertain which of those on file are still active and whether people on the list are still alive. To complicate matters further, the cemetery tightened eligibility rules for those to be buried at Arlington without informing those holding reservations, the Post said.

Carl Bauersfeld and his wife were told in a letter in 1954 that they were eligible for burial at Arlington. However, when Bauersfeld died in 2009, officials refused to honor the reservation. His son told the Post, “They say they changed the rules, but they never contacted him during his life. Only in death do we find out . . . This is a clear case of not honoring their commitments.”

Cemetery officials eventually relented, allowing Bauersfeld to be buried in Arlington. However, he did not receive his own grave but instead was buried in the grave that holds his father’s remains, the Post said.

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