Battle Rages Over Arlington

As Americans pay tribute Monday to the nation's war dead and the many prominent Americans who rest in the quiet shade of Arlington National Cemetery, a battle rages over what type of heroism qualifies one for burial at Arlington.

CBS News Correspondent Stephanie Lambidakis, reports this could be the last Memorial Day that the Supreme Court is granted the privilege of a burial at Arlington. That's because of a political battle being waged by the U.S. Congress.

Concerned about revelations that a prominent Democratic donor might have been improperly buried in Arlington, the House voted unanimously last month to restrict Arlington burials to only the most highly decorated veterans. No one realized that the measure would deny the honor to the Supreme Court, Lambidakis reports.

If the House measure becomes law, justices like Thurgood Marshall, who never served in the military, could never be buried there. Even justices who served in wartime would be excluded. These include three Bronze-Star recipients - John Paul Stevens, a Japanese code breaker; Byron White, who survived two kamikaze attacks; and Lewis Powell, who deciphered German codes.

"I think there is legitimacy to say that it ought to be a veterans' burial ground, but whether it should exclude someone who has not obtained a silver star is what we're taking a close look at now, said Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

"I think Justice Marshall in his lifetime performed acts which were almost as courageous as those soldiers that helped to defend our liberty on D-Day," he added.

Historian George Christensen says Congress has forgotten what Arlington stands for.

"It has become, in my mind, a unique repository of American history, not just military history, but all history," Christensen said. "And I think that unique quality makes it even more sacred and more special."
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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