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Who Qualifies to be Buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

Arlington National Cemetery offers a sacred final resting place for veterans, and service members. Find out who qualifies here.

One of the most frequent questions we hear from visitors to Arlington National Cemetery is Who can be buried here? As visitors walk the 600 + acres of rolling hills dotted with rows of grave markers it is a central question - what did these 400,000+ people have in common?

To answer, first keep in mind that Arlington National Cemetery is prestigious among all the National Military cemeteries because of its proximity to the nation’s capital and because of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers from World War l and World War II located within its grounds. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is guarded 24/7 by the Old Guard – a special Army unit stationed at nearby Fort Meyer. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is free and open to the public from 8 AM to 5 PM. It is held on the hour during winter months and on the hour and half hour in warmer months.

Two US Presidents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery – President Kennedy (with Jackie) and President Taft (with his wife, Helen) as well as countless American heroes.

And then there’s the problem with space- the cemetery is filling-up. Some additional land has been acquired and a limited number of acres will be available in the next few years.

Because of all these reasons Arlington National Cemetery is considered to have one of the strictest guidelines for burial in any US Military Cemetery.

Then there’s the matter of how long before a loved one’s death can a family get a decision from Arlington National Cemetery. The basic rule at Arlington National Cemetery is that their decision cannot be made before death. A family cannot get an “early” answer – only after a loved one dies can the family go to ANC for a decision.

Remember also that these rules have changed over the years. Because a person qualified for burial at ANC in 1947 does not necessarily mean they would qualify today.

Here are the published guidelines from Arlington National Cemetery that are now in effect You’ll note there are different requirements for in-ground burial versus inurnment in the relatively new columbarium. Funeral Directors follow this link


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