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Compromise needed at Arlington
October 16, 2013 - Jim Smith
While I may understand why the Arlington National Cemetery has taken a hard-line approach to its policy forbidding momentos on graves, it certainly seems cold-hearted and a slap in the face to family members of those buried there.
The policy enforcement is aimed at Section 60 where more than 800 military men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. Over the last few years, family members and friends have placed personal messages and tokens on the graves of their fallen heroes in direct conflict with the nearly 400,000 orderly and somber graves spread over Arlington's 612 acres.
But Section 60 where the newest graves are located mark the fresh reminders of those whose lives were cut short in the service of their country and where young wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, children, girlfriends and others repeatedly were seen kneeling at the gravesite and placing a personal item to keep a connection to their loved one.
But Arlington National Cemetery has begun enforcing its long-standing policy forbidding such momentos and has gathered and discarded the items left on or by the somber gravestones.
Families have every right to be upset. While it might be a violation of policy, to allow family members their time of grief why couldn't the momento be left on the graves for a limited amount of time and then collected and held for return to the family members?
Such an effort would maintain the dignity of the hallowed ground and provide loved ones their final goodbye.