Security tightens at Arlington National Cemetery

ARLINGTON, Va. — Visitors to Arlington National Cemetery will soon see tightened security measures at one of the nation’s most visited and sacred landmarks.

Additional screening is being phased in through November, cemetery officials say.

“Arlington is taking advanced security precautions to protect visitors, family members and staff,” Patrick Hallinan, executive director for Arlington National Cemetery, said in a statement. “These security measures will be similar to the ones at museums in the National Capitol Region.”

Through the course of the month, the following steps will be implemented:

  • Visitors driving into the cemetery will be required to show a government-issued photo ID, including a driver’s license or passport.
  • Family members with permanent grave site vehicle passes can continue to drive to their loved one’s grave with a license.
  • Pedestrians entering Arlington National Cemetery will be limited to four access points: the main entrance on Memorial Avenue, Ord & Weitzel Gate, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Old Post Chapel Gate, and the Service Complex Gate off Columbia Pike.
  • At the main gate, pedestrians’ bags will be screened through the Welcome Center.

Officials say express screening lines will be available for visitors who don’t have bags, as well as visitors with disabilities.

The pedestrians and vehicle traffic patterns for Arlington National Cemetery. (Courtesy Arlington National Cemetery)
The pedestrians and vehicle traffic patterns for Arlington National Cemetery. (Courtesy Arlington National Cemetery)

“These processes may result in a delay entering Arlington but it is vitally important that we protect the safety of all the visitors, family members and staff that enter these hallowed grounds,” said Hallinan. “We want to be sure that when people visit this site they can feel safe and secure.”

Steve Smith, a public affairs specialist at Arlington National Cemetery, said that as of Monday, bag screening hadn’t started, and ID checks were being done randomly. All drivers of vehicles entering the cemetery, Smith said, are being asked to show ID, however.

Smith said the goal was to improve security without slowing up lines appreciably, or detracting from the experience of visiting the cemetery, so there was “no hard timetable” for implementing the rest of the measures. “We’ll be eyeing up each step as we go,” he said.

Smith said that the increased security measures were part of a general upgrade of security at Army installations that was ordered after the shootings at military locations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last year and at the Canadian War Memorial in Parliament Square in Ottawa in 2014.

As “more of an open and public location,” Smith said, Arlington National Cemetery had gotten waivers to delay the implementation of such security measures, but they were only temporary.

WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

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