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Honoring American Veterans Act of 2011

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RUNYAN. I thank Chairman Miller.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1627, as amended, a bill containing several provisions regarding Arlington National Cemetery.

H.R. 1627, as amended and introduced by Chairman Miller, alters the requirements for the placement of certain monuments within Arlington National Cemetery. It would limit the erection of monuments not containing interred remains. These changes bring the requirements in better accord with the primary purpose of the cemetery: to honor our fallen servicemembers.

H.R. 1441, which I have introduced and included in H.R. 1627, as amended, would codify the regulations and policies barring reservations for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

After being informed by a constituent of potential problems of past mismanagement at the cemetery, including lax oversight, damaged graves, and improper burials, I met with Mr. Patrick Hallinan, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, and Ms. Kathryn Condon, executive director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, in March, who helped me to quickly address and resolve the concerns of my constituent. H.R. 1627 will give Mr. Hallinan and Ms. Condon valuable tools to further aid them in their stewardship of some of the Nation's most sacred ground.

The space at Arlington National Cemetery is very limited, so we must plan accordingly. These provisions ensure that our Nation's most revered cemetery will remain open to all eligible veterans, regardless of rank or position, while maintaining its current pristine and peaceful setting for the interment of our fallen servicemembers.

The bill, as amended, also includes H. Con. Res. 12, which expresses the same sense of Congress that a monument should be placed to honor Jewish chaplains. As an original cosponsor of this resolution, I am thankful that we were able to include it in this bill.

Finally, the bill, as amended, includes H. Con. Res. 45, which Chairman Miller introduced to honor the commitment and dedication of our Armed Forces who are serving, or have served, in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.

Over 2 million members of the armed services have been deployed to theaters of war since the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. As Chairman Miller noted, it is especially fitting that we honor our servicemembers as Memorial Day approaches.

I want to thank my friend, Mr. McNerney of California, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorials, for his bipartisan leadership in moving this bill forward.

I urge all Members to support H.R. 1627, as amended.

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