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How did Senator Kennedy earn burial rights in Arlington?

A question that has been chapping some people, both in comments here and in email.

Simple.  He is eligible under the existing rules.

Senators who spend 2 years in the Army and 40 years in the Senate qualify for Arlington. It isn't PFC Kennedy that is being buried there, in a sense.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall, who never served in uniform, is buried in Arlington.  Arlington is considered a national treasure and is managed a bit differently from the other cemeteries in the system.

Specifically, the guidance that qualifies Senator Kennedy is this:

g. Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and who held any of the following positions:

1. An elective office of the U.S. Government
2. Office of the Chief Justice of the United States or of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
3. An office listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 USC 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive Schedule).
4. The chief of a mission who was at any time during his/her tenure classified in Class I under the provisions of Section 411, Act of 13 August 1946, 60 Stat. 1002, as amended (22 USC 866) or as listed in State Department memorandum dated March 21, 1988.


Emphasis mine.  Justice Marshall was buried under an exception to policy.

End of story.  In this instance, there is no special consideration being given to anyone (other, I suspect, than to *where* Senator Kennedy will be buried in Arlington).

Update: In light of Alan's comment, I feel I should add this, too: I have no gripe with Senator Kennedy being buried in Arlington - and I wouldn't even if he was going in on an exception to policy, such as Justice Marshall did.  But that's not relevant, for the simple fact that Senator Kennedy meets the qualifications.


 At a certain point, isn't there an end to politics which still includes national pride.  It is a sad comment on the times when this would even be a question given the qualification.  
Arlington is a national treasure. Not everyone buried there is.
Sen Kennedy served his country, both in and out of uniform.  As it clearly meets the criteria, there is no reason in my mind he shouldn't be buried with others of his family.

One thing you have to give to Kennedy, as much as I couldn't stand (almost) anything that he believed in, is that he was up front and honest about where he stood and what he believed, unlike many others these days.

<<braces for incoming>>
A fair point, Alan, and one reason I put up this post.

Clearly, Senator Kennedy is a polarizing figure - but you almost have to ask what prominent politician isn't these days, given the way political discourse occurs, a subject Cassandra has been typing about a lot of late. to where...

Do they still have privies there?  Those holding tanks need a good, stable floor.
As a Canadian I was curious of what he did to deserve this, the military time I am ok with, the other would stick in my throat if I was a US citizen, politicans can have their own place of honour as far as I am concerned.

  My brother was recently laid to rest in Willamette National Cemetary. When's it's my turn I would like to lay next to him. Does anyone know if they will reserve that plot for me?
They will not,as I understand it.  But under certain circumstances, you can request to be buried in the same spot he is.

In fact, if that's a busy cemetery, the spot next to him may already be filled.
Anyone know where Mary Jo Kopechne is buried?

How about the reputations of  Justice Thomas and Judge Bork, other victims of the Chappaquidick kid?

All good fodder for discussion of Kennedy's legacy (and his contributions to the poisoned rhetorical environment we trudge through) John,  but not a basis for denying him a space in Arlington.

If the Right were to bellow and breast-beat and succeed (neither of which will happen, regardless) the Left would retaliate when President Bush or any similar figure of the Right passes, were the decision be to inter at Arlington.

There are plenty of imperfect people interred in Arlington.  The reality is, unless you are convicted of a capital crime (and I don't think Kopechne's death would rise to that level, however much we think justice was not served in her case) if you qualify, you aren't going to be denied a space.

To answer your question - Saint Vincent's Cemetery, Larksville, Pennsylvania - I admit I had to Google it.  Justice Thomas and Judge Bork will have to ask Ray Donovan where you go to get your reputation back

In Justice Thomas' case, at least, the best revenge is living well.
My only gripe is that Arlington National Cemetary seemed to have reserved a spot for Senator Kennedy...why are there so many open graves in that section?  Makes you wonder if some prior arrangments were made to reserve that section of the cemetary.  No space is supposed to be reserved in a National Cemetary, other than this I find it fitting that he was laid to rest in Arlington.
Spouses of intered veterans may reserve the adjacent plot at time of vets interment. This is done through the funeral arrangements.

Please remember that Arlington National Cemetery is run by the Army and not part of the National Cemetery system run by the Veterans Administration. Without his elected service, Ted Kennedy, US Army veteran, would NOT have been eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Military retirees, yes. Veterans, no, unless they were awarded a Silver Star or above.

As for spouses, only those who are also veterans, can reserve the adjacent lot in a National Cemetery. The rest of us spouses who choose to be buried with our husbands share the space.

Widow of SGT DJ Miller, 1st AIR Cav
Silver Star Medal 18 Feb 1968 Quang Tri Province, RVN
Died 23 Sep 2008 due to Agent Orange/Diabetes