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Army to Expand Arlington Cemetery

“More than 400,000 are buried or interred at Arlington, which conducts nearly 30 burial ceremonies a day.”

By Matthew Barakat; Associated Press:

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington National Cemetery is moving ahead with plans to expand by roughly 50,000 spaces, extending the cemetery’s life beyond 2050.

The cemetery is run by the Army. For several years, military officials tried to negotiate a land swap with Arlington County that would allow the cemetery to expand and accommodate the county’s needs as well.

Arlington County announced Thursday that the Army has ended those negotiations and intends to expand unilaterally on the site, known as the Navy Annex. The land cited for expansion is on the cemetery’s southern border, in and around the Air Force Memorial.

The cemetery also will acquire about 5 acres (2 hectares) from Arlington County and 7 acres (3 hectares) from the state of Virginia.

County spokesman Brian Stout says Congressional legislation passed last year gives the Army the leverage to move ahead without exchanging any land.

Army officials did not respond to calls seeking comment Thursday.

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No Matter the Role, the Common Denominator on Memorial Day is ‘Service’

By Stephen Owsinski; OpsLens:

As all of us ponder the enormous freedoms we enjoy—thanks to thousands of fallen military heroes to whom we pay homage this Memorial Day 2017 weekend—I ruminate the many law enforcement officers who were soldiers in the US Armed Forces before returning stateside to become cops. From nation-serving to local-serving efforts, scores of brave men and women choose to continue carrying the torch of liberty and justice.

Exchanging the military garb for a police uniform and swearing an oath to duty is a rather traditional link in terms of public service. It underscores why the law enforcement institution in America is dubbed “paramilitary” and denotes the indoctrination which carries over from military service to police service. Hence, police agencies seeking to fill vacancies particularly scout out and encourage former military applicants, with good reason. Conversely, soldiers discharged from military service focus on becoming cops in their locales of origin, if not elsewhere. It’s a transference of service borne of selflessness.

In any event, the compatible traits between military and police institutions are intertwined. Firearms, uniforms, code of ethics, defense skills, Constitutional preservation, tactics and strategies are all shared ingredients characterizing military and police roles. What is the most consistent characteristic is the desire to serve, up to and including the potential of self-sacrifice. The essence of Memorial Day recognizes that ultimate consequence. Some survive, others do not.

Service is Common Denominator

After a half-century, a police veteran retires after serving Americans in Rochester, NY. With 52 years’ police service under his duty belt, Police Captain Lynde Johnston is retiring from the Rochester Police Department. Like many who serve in the military and/or law enforcement, it is typical to carry on the family legacy by having sons and daughters fill the same military or police shoes.

In this case, Captain Johnston boasts his three sons, all of whom are cops serving in varying law enforcement agencies in NY State. Generations serving in law enforcement in the Johnston ancestry is likely, since it appears hereditary.

One can imagine the breadth of stories Captain Johnston has to share, including policing stateside while our nation was involved in military conflicts abroad. As Rochester, NY’s TV news station WHAM reported, Captain Johnston is Someone You Should Know. I surmise his sons have some military time among them.

Athletes Who Served

From playing-field to battlefield, some prominent athletic figures changed numbered uniforms for camo-printed ones, and signed-on to become soldiers on behalf of our beloved nation. Law Enforcement Today published a retrospective array of courageous-athletes-turned-soldiers who took up the cause of national security conflicts in arenas dwarfing the grassy patch of a playing field.

One athlete-turned-soldier never returned to the playing field. He never returned home to fill the open arms of loved ones. Instead, he was welcomed back by heartbroken and mourning family and friends, all of whom stood and gazed at the coveted body enclosed in the sanctity of a US flag-draped casket.

A widely-commemorated figure befitting this category and deserving of utmost respect is Patrick Daniel Tillman who, with athletic stardom in his hands, voluntarily relinquished a $3.6 million NFL contract, glamour and glitz to serve in the US Army. On the heels of 9/11’s War on Terror, Tillman perished in Iraq in April 2004, his death controversially classified a “friendly fire” incident. Nevertheless, the decision of a man who had it all and sacrificed it to serve America’s interests is what pulses Memorial Day’s heartbeat and heartache.

Serving Both Roles

There is a category neither spoken about nor advertised often…but it transpires honorably. Cops who once served in the military who subsequently opt to be police officers do not necessarily shed the former role. In combination, law enforcers across our beloved country remain active in the military function as reservists while their police jobs are protected (reserved) by a federal statute called Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This Act is legislated to ensure cops who are “voluntarily or involuntarily” activated and/or deployed are guaranteed their police roles are protected until military service periods are concluded. No guarantee existed prior to USERRA and many cops lost their hard-earned law enforcement careers. Lawmakers put an end to such betrayal, and police agencies complied under USERRA.

Clandestine Service

Think Benghazi. That debacle graphically colorized the dangers of our nation’s federal defense contractors who largely work overseas in war-torn countries limping toward and striving for democracy. Defense contractors work at embassies and political outposts to maintain order while steadfastly ensuring quiet postures. As we witnessed in Benghazi, it doesn’t go according to plan and our heroes operating in these terror-prone territories perish in the course of fulfilling duty-bound missions.

Special ops figures are the safeguard, and it often goes awry, as depicted in the movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Clandestinely, counterterrorism and counterintelligence experts who traverse in the wind like ghosts and work in the shadows like phantoms serve righteously and under dire circumstances. Often alone and isolated from back-up, these operators are deeply immersed and ensuring our national security initiatives materialize.

Support Networks

No less important are the family members who experience the mystique of sending their kin or intimate loved ones off to perilous journeys, all the while knowing a return is never guaranteed. It is on Memorial Day that these unsung heroes deserve praise and supportive embrace. It is the tombstones of soldiers which mark plots packed with honor, courage, heroism, valor, distinction, dedication, national pride, and self-sacrifice for fellow Americans. If by name alone, these family members somberly yet proudly carry the inherent warrior-based legacy.

As OpsLens Founder and Editor-in-Chief Drew Berquist articulated on Memorial Day, “…if you pick up arms to defend this great nation – then we are bonded together for eternity.”

Roger that, sir!

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