Next time you visit Arlington National Cemetery, you’ll have to leave Fido or your bike at home. According to Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the United States Armed Forces, the Army recently announced two new policies: As of Wednesday, October 26, no pets or unauthorized bikes will be allowed on burial grounds, among other regulations.
The cemetery is one of America’s most sacred spaces, but dog walkers and cyclists often use its 624 acres for recreational purposes. These visitors don’t intend to be disrespectful, but their presence still affects the decorum of both funerals and ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Army explained in a series of official statements.
“We have 27 to 30 services a day," Stephen Smith, public affairs officers for Arlington National Cemetery, told military newspaper Pentagram. "In almost any quadrant you go to during our work hours, there’s going to be a service going on."
There are a few exceptions, WTOP News reports. Service animals and working military dogs are still permitted to enter the cemetery, and if you’re visiting a relative’s headstone or niche, you can request a temporary pass from the gravesite’s executive director to ride a bike directly to and from the site. (Arlington National Cemetery doesn’t have designated bike paths, so officials are concerned that cyclists will collide with pedestrians or cars.)
For cyclists using the cemetery as a shortcut to get from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall to Memorial Avenue (the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery that stretches across the Potomac River to the nearby Lincoln Memorial), officials recommend taking an alternate route around the cemetery that’s only slightly longer than the direct path.
But sorry, animal lovers: The cemetery likely won’t make any special allowances for unauthorized furry friends. (Previously, site policy allowed trained pets on leashes in every part of the graveyard, apart from President John F. Kennedy’s grave.)
[h/t Stars and Stripes]
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