Arlington National Cemetery is back in the news again, and – once again – the news isn’t good:
The list is 84 names long — mostly generals and colonels. There’s a sergeant major of the Army, a former assistant Army secretary, a Navy vice admiral, a former congressman.
They are VIPs with one of the most prestigious tickets in Washington: a reserved plot at Arlington National Cemetery, the nation’s premier military burial ground.
On Thursday, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) is to introduce legislation that would revoke those reservations — made under an unofficial system that continued for decades in violation of Army policy — and force the cemetery to determine how many plots have been set aside.
In an interview Monday, Warner said he wanted to make sure that Arlington does not play favorites with its graves and that it does not honor any reservations made after 1962, when officials decided the cemetery’s coveted plots should be offered without regard to rank or status.
“It’s a disgrace that backroom deals were being made and some general might trump the rights of a fallen soldier from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Warner said.
Rank may indeed have its privileges in this life, but none of them ought to survive the wearer’s death. In the end, of dust we came, and to dust we shall return.