Convict buried in Arlington causes stir

Aug. 10, 2005 at 9:10 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The recent burial of a Vietnam veteran, and convicted murderer, at Arlington National Cemetery has stirred a debate about who can be buried there.

Vernon Davis complained to Arlington officials last week after Russell Wagner was buried there, the Washington Post reports.

Wagner killed Davis' parents in Hagerstown, Md., in 1994.

A law passed in 1997 prevented anyone convicted of capital crimes from being buried in a national cemetery. The law was enacted to prevent veteran and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh from a burial at Arlington.

The Army and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are debating whether to expand the restriction to more crimes.

That move is creating mixed reactions.

Some veteran groups, most notably the American Legion, support the status quo.

Legion spokeswoman Ramona Joyce called Wagner's actions tragic but said it was his military service that was being honored by burial in Arlington.

She also said that adding crimes to the burial restriction would disqualify veterans, specifically those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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