The most disciplined organization in our government seems to have the least organized cemetery. With more and more records being lost or found incorrect, and graves left without tombstones, the number of burial errors has risen from hundreds to thousands at Arlington National Cemetery. The Associated Press reports:
Estimates of the number of graves that might be affected by mix-ups at Arlington National Cemetery grew from hundreds to as many as 6,600 on Thursday, as the cemetery’s former superintendent blamed his staff and a lack of resources for the scandal that forced his ouster.
John Metzler, who ran the historic military burial ground for 19 years, said he accepts “full responsibility” for the problems.
But he also denied some of the findings by Army investigators and suggested cemetery employees and poor technology were to blame for remains that may have been misidentified or misplaced. He said the system used to track grave sites relied mostly on a complicated paper trail vulnerable to error.
“Personally it is very painful for me that our team at Arlington did not perform all aspects of its mission to the high standard required,” he told a Senate panel. He was subpoenaed to testify.
Metzler and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, were forced to retire after Army investigators found that as many as 211 graves were unmarked or misidentified. The report by the Army Inspector General’s office accused Metzler of repeatedly failing to ensure burials were being done properly and of failing to respond after unmarked graves were discovered.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of an oversight panel on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that her investigation has revealed far higher estimates of the number of graves affected. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said she believes that between 4,900 and 6,600 graves may be unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps.
Kathryn Condon, who was hired to fix the cemetery’s problems, testified that the Army was still trying to determine exactly how many burial sites could be affected. But, she said, “I am confident there are probably other map errors” beyond the 211 sites initially identified by Army investigators.
Metzler said an inspector general finding that more than 100 graves lacked a headstone or burial card was not entirely accurate and that it was mostly internal working maps used by cemetery employees that were mislabeled.
Story continued at AP News …