The Arlington National Cemetery, located just outside the US capital, was closed to the public on Friday due to a bomb threat that was received via email. As a result of the closure, all scheduled funerals were delayed until further notice. In a statement posted on all of its social media accounts, the cemetery urged the public to avoid the area and wait for updates while the threat was being investigated by response teams and local law enforcement partners.
The closure was announced shortly after 9 am and Arlington County police provided assistance to military personnel at Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall in conducting the investigation. A K-9 unit was deployed to the cemetery in response to the bomb report. However, after thorough examination, it was revealed that there was nothing suspicious found and law enforcement officials safely cleared all areas of the cemetery. Despite the clearance, the cemetery remained closed to the public for the remainder of the day in order to focus on the postponed funerals.
“The cemetery takes every threat seriously,” said director Karen Durham-Aguilera. She emphasized that the priority for the rest of the day was to carry out their mission of laying service members and their loved ones to rest. Arlington National Cemetery is one of the two national cemeteries under the administration of the US military. It spans over 259 hectares (639 acres) in Virginia and serves as the final resting place for approximately 400,000 military members and their spouses. The cemetery offers a solemn view of Washington, DC across the Potomac River.
Adjacent to the cemetery is the Myer-Henderson Hall, which is the base of the 3rd US Infantry Division, also known as ‘The Old Guard’. This division is responsible for safeguarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a significant memorial site within the cemetery. The historical significance of the cemetery dates back to the Civil War when it was used to bury Union soldiers killed in battle. The land was originally owned by the adopted grandson of George Washington, the first US president. It was seized from General Robert E. Lee, who was a top Confederate general at the time, during the war. Although Lee’s family disputed the seizure, the property was eventually sold back to the government in 1883 by George Washington Custis Lee, and it was then entrusted to Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of the late US president Abraham Lincoln.
The closure of Arlington National Cemetery due to a bomb threat highlights the importance of maintaining security and safety at such revered national sites. The swift response and thorough investigation conducted by response teams and law enforcement partners reaffirm the commitment to protecting the cemetery and its visitors. The closure may have inconvenienced the public and caused delays to the scheduled funerals, but it was necessary to ensure the well-being of all those involved. As the threats against national landmarks continue to persist, authorities must remain vigilant to safeguard these significant sites.