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Arlington Cemetery will allow small mementos

Thania Sayne of Effingham, Ill., cries at the grave of her husband, Army Sgt. Timothy D. Sayne, during the playing of taps at a nearby burial service at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, a day before what would have been their third wedding anniversary. Sayne, was 4 months pregnant with their second son, Douglas, when her husband was killed on Sept. 18, 2011, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

ARLINGTON, Va. Arlington National Cemetery is relaxing its policies to allow family members of those buried in its section for those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan to leave behind small mementos and photos to honor those soldiers, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Section 60 is the part of the cemetery that is home to most of those killed in recent fighting.

Families in that section had been leaving stones, photos and other mementos at their loved ones' gravesites, even though cemetery policy strictly regulates such impromptu memorials.

Responding to complaints, cemetery staff cleaned out some of those memorials recently. Then families who had left the mementos complained about their removal.

Patrick Hallinan is the executive director of the Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. He met with Section 60 families on Oct. 6, and worked out a compromise that will allow displays through the fall and winter months when the grass doesn't need cut often, said cemetery spokeswoman Jennifer Lynch.

Officials emphasized that items that are unsightly, anything affixed headstones, dangerous items such as tobacco, alcohol, ammunition, and glass, as well as any item that might pose a risk to workers or visitors.

Lynch said the cemetery will review its regulations and policies to see if long-term accommodation can be made.

Officials said small mementos will be permitted. Photos will be allowed, but cannot be taped to headstones, Lynch said.