A decision last year to deny the inurnment of female WWII pilots' ashes at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia recently spurred an outrage.
A group of approximately 1,000 female pilots, known as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), served during World War II under the command of the United States Army Air Forces. They flew noncombat missions so that male pilots could fly more in combat, they test-flew aircraft, and they helped train combat pilots during live ammo sessions. The Army, which runs the cemetery and has tightened restrictions on who is allowed in the cemetery over space concerns, had determined that WASPs should be included with "active duty designees" like Merchant Marines, who are no longer ineligible.
But since the news broke, two bills have been introduced to allow WASP ashes back in.
According to The Washington Post, Reps Martha McSally (R-Arizona) and Susan A. Davis (D-California) presented legislation to reopen Arlington. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Maryland) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) have introduced a companion bill.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) recently sent a letter to the Army on the matter.
She wrote, "It is my hope that the Department of the Army will not make these heroes fight yet another battle, and I respectfully request that the Army allow these women the opportunity to be interred at Arlington Cemetery if they so choose.”
The U.S. House Bill "H.R. 4336: Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act" was introduced Jan. 6 and has been referred to a congressional committee for consideration before it may be sent to the House or Senate. It currently has 113 cosponsors — 71 Republicans and 42 Democrats.
The U.S. Senate bill "S. 2437: Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act of 2016" was introduced Jan. 11 and has also been referred to a congressional committee for consideration before it may be sent to the House or Senate. It currently has 13 cosponsors — nine Democrats and four Republicans.
We will keep track of these bills as they progress.