Thania Sayne, of Effingham, Ill., widow of Army Sgt. Timothy D. Sayne, left, is consoled by Alison Malachowski, of Westminster, Md., as they visit Section 60 of the Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 16. Malachowski's son, Marine Staff Sgt. James M. Malachowski, was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)
ARLINGTON, VA. — Arlington National Cemetery is relaxing its policies to allow family members of those buried in its section for those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan to leave behind small mementos and photos to honor those servicemembers, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Section 60 is the part of the cemetery that is home to most of those killed in recent fighting.
Families in that section had been leaving stones, photos and other mementos at their loved ones’ gravesites, even though cemetery policy strictly regulates such impromptu memorials.
Responding to complaints, cemetery staff cleaned out some of those memorials recently. Then families who had left the mementos complained about their removal.
Patrick Hallinan is the executive director of the Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. He met with Section 60 families on Oct. 6, and worked out a compromise that will allow displays through the fall and winter months when the grass doesn’t need cut often, said cemetery spokeswoman Jennifer Lynch.
Officials emphasized that items that are unsightly, anything affixed to headstones, dangerous items such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunition, and glass, as well as any item that might pose a risk to workers or visitors are not permitted.
Lynch said the cemetery will review its regulations and policies to see if long-term accommodation can be made.
Officials said small mementos will be permitted. Photos will be allowed, but cannot be taped to headstones, Lynch said.