Pandemic prompts changes to funerals at Arlington National Cemetery

Heather Curtis

WMAL.com

WASHINGTON (WMAL) – The coronavirus pandemic is prompting Arlington National Cemetery to make changes to the way funerals are carried out.

During the pandemic, Arlington National Cemetery continues to bury veterans, service members and their families with military funeral honors. But starting Monday, March 30 horse drawn Caisson Platoon escorts – which only certain people are eligible for – will be curtailed because of the number of people required for them.

Around sixteen service members will be at each burial: including pallbearers, a firing party, a non-commissioned officer and a chaplain if requested. Service members will maintain appropriate social distancing.

“Our mission is imperative. We are going to take care of our nation’s veterans, service members and families in the way that they deserve it,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, the executive director of Arlington National Cemetery, told WMAL.

The cemetery is asking people to limit the number of family members and friends attending funerals to 10. Families will have the option of rescheduling the service for a few months if they would like more people to be able to attend. Durham-Aguilera said some are choosing that option, while others are holding the funerals now.

“This is hard. This is hard for everybody. You know, we’re used to taking care of our veterans and family, and part of our care is the emotional care and helping them,” Durham-Aguilera said.

Still, they have to make sure that they are following the health measures necessary to keep everyone safe.

To do that, they will keep assessing conditions and making adjustments as necessary.

Durham-Aguilera said they are contacting all families with funerals to keep them posted. Family members who have questions regarding their upcoming scheduled funeral or who wish to reschedule a service are asked to call 1-877- 907-8585.

Copyright 2020 by WMAL.com. All Rights Reserved. Photo Arlington National Cemetery

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