President Trump made an unannounced visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for more than 420,000 men and women who served in the country’s Armed Services, their spouses, and former presidents.
Politico reports that Trump’s visit coincided with “National Wreaths Across America Day,” where thousands of volunteers show up each year to place a wreath on the graves within the Arlington Cemetery and other cemeteries across the country.
The president wore his trademark long overcoat and brandished a black umbrella at the grave site just one month after he was criticized for declining to visit the historic military graveyard on Veterans Day and for not paying his respects at a French cemetery for American troops near Paris because of rainy weather.
Briefly addressing reporters during the visit, the president hailed a ruling by a federal judge on Friday evening invalidating Obamacare as “a great victory,” according to a pool report.
At Arlington on Saturday, Trump weighed in on the explosive ruling by a federal judge in Texas on Friday evening invalidating the entirety of former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, calling the decision “a big, big victory by a highly respected judge.”
Unfortunately, the Arlington Cemetery has a limited number of spaces to honor the fallen and it is quickly filling up.
TIME reports the national cemetery will no longer have vacancies to honor the fallen by the early 2040s.
“Every year, 7,000 more people are buried with military honors there, or about 30 per day,” TIME reports. “But at the current pace, Arlington will reach its capacity within about 25 years.”
A potential solution would have to come from lawmakers in the Capitol, who have toiled for years on how to best resolve the issue. Two main solutions are being considered: Expanding federal grounds for the cemetery or reserving plots within the cemetery to service members killed in action or awarded the Medal of Honor.
Both potential solutions come with difficulties of their own as the area around the national cemetery includes highways and roadway systems that would limit its potential growth. The national government would also have to request or seize the additional, surrounding land.
TIME reports the prospect of limiting the positions has stirred some controversy: “One proposal, would allot Arlington plots only to service members killed in action or bestowed the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. But undermining the egalitarian promise of Arlington as a final resting place for ordinary veterans has set off a debate.”
During his surprise visit to the cemetery, as the Washington Examiner reports, Trump mentioned to his guide that he was investigating how to expand the cemetery.
“We’re looking to expand Arlington National Cemetery by acquiring land around it,” the president said, per the Hill. “It’s working out pretty well. We’re working very hard on it. We’ll get it done. They need it. They need it.”