Congressman Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) today announced his Place of Remembrance Act passed the House of Representatives. The legislation creates a Place of Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery as a final resting place for unknown veterans' remains from every military conflict moving forward.
"This is an outrage, a terrible injustice to our service members, and cannot be allowed to stand," Stivers said. "The first step to address this issue is creating a proper memorial for the remains of those who served, so a travesty like this can never occur again."
Stivers introduced the legislation in response to news stories late last year on the Dover Air Force Base mortuary sending veterans' remains to the Prince George Landfill. The Washington Post in an article from December 7, 2011, uncovered that "976 fragments from 274 military personnel were cremated, incinerated and taken to the landfill between 2004 and 2008."
Stivers' legislation creates a Place of Remembrance for each conflict moving forward for the interment of cremated fragments of service member remains that are unidentifiable by DNA or are unclaimed after a reasonable period of time. This includes Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
"While the current solution to this problem is to bury unidentified remains at sea, as an Army officer, I believe we should not leave any hero behind," Stivers said. "Those who gave the final measure in their service to our great nation deserve a final resting place worthy of their dedication, commitment and devotion."
The Place of Remembrance Act has the support of The Arlington National Cemetery, the VFW and the American Legion. Stivers' Place of Remembrance Act was included as part of H.R. 5948, the Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012, which passed the House by a voice vote today.
A career soldier, Stivers has served over 27 years in the Ohio Army National Guard and holds the rank of Colonel. He served the United States overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar and Djibouti where he led 400 soldiers and contractors and is proud that each and every one returned home safely to the United States. Stivers received the Bronze Star for his leadership throughout the deployment.