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The worst submarine disaster in US history is finally getting a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery
Judy Douglas has waited 56 years for this moment.
Her brother Lt. John Smarz Jr. was one of the 129 men who died when the USS Thresher, the most advanced submarine of its era, sank to the ocean floor during a deep dive test on April 10, 1963, about 220 miles east of Cape Cod. The event remains the worst submarine disaster in U.S. history.
On Thursday, the 79-year-old Douglas, of Shelton, Conn., will gather with other family members of the deceased at Arlington National Cemetery for the unveiling of a memorial in honor of the Thresher crew and the submarine safety program that came afterward, which, Douglas said, she considers part of her brother's legacy. She and about 50 others will be taking a bus down from Norwich organized by the memorial fundraisers, who had raised $60,000 in private donations for the marker.
"Long time coming," Douglas said of the memorial. "I mean it's going to be quite an experience."
In order to stay ahead of shrinking burial space, the Army is proposing new criteria to decide who is and is not eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the service announced on Wednesday.
Under current criteria, "[n]early all of the 22 million living armed forces members and veterans are eligible for less than 95,000 remaining burial spaces." Without changes, the Army says the cemetery will hit capacity by the 2050s.
Arlington National Cemetery quietly changed its policy on 'full military honors' for Medal of Honor heroes
Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 service members, veterans and their families. The hallowed ground is a symbol of national service, and a shrine to the sacrifices made by those in uniform.
In recent years, there's been a growing push to see a change in what funeral honors are rendered for some of the country's most distinguished heroes: Medal of Honor recipients and prisoners of war. As it turns out, the cemetery has already made some of those changes.
Arlington National Cemetery Is Running Out Of Space. Maybe We're Asking The Wrong Question About How To Fix It
Monday morning, thousands of people made their way to Arlington National Cemetery for the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many more will watched on TV.