Arlington Cemetery to Close for Inauguration Day Amid Massive Security Lockdown

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Wreaths lay on the graves of fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery
Wreaths lay on the graves of fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Dec. 15, 2012. The annual event to place wreaths at each grave in Arlington National Cemetery went virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by E.J. Hersom)

Arlington National Cemetery, which normally draws a stream of visitors on the nation's quadrennial Inauguration Day, has joined the growing list of public spaces that will be closed Jan. 20 amid a massive security lockdown in the District of Columbia.

The cemetery, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., will be closed to the public Jan. 20 and no funerals or family pass holder visitations will be permitted, cemetery officials said in a statement Friday. The cemetery will reopen to the public at 8 a.m. on Jan. 21.

The closure of the cemetery is part of extraordinary security precautions being taken against threats of disruption or violence following the U.S. Capitol's storming by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6.

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Businesses in downtown D.C. have boarded up their windows; National Guard troops are streaming into the city; and streets near the Capitol building where Biden will take the oath on the West Front have been closed off.

D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department will have "all hands on deck" from the 3,100-member force to respond to any contingency, Police Chief Robert Contee said at a news conference Friday.

"Our officers can focus on keeping D.C. safe from any aspects of crime, including these extremist groups that have attacked our capital," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. She has urged the public to stay home and watch the inauguration on TV.

Contee and Matt Miller, special agent in charge of the Secret Service Washington Field Office, both said there was "chatter" online about potential violence on Inauguration Day, but did not point to any specific threats.

Fencing has gone up around the Capitol complex. Parts of the National Mall, the broad, two-mile stretch of green extending from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, will also be closed off, the National Park Service said.

Demonstrations will be permitted only near the U.S. Navy Memorial and John Marshall Park, both well away from the Capitol, the Park Service said. Demonstrators will have to go through a security screening and be escorted to the designated areas, officials added.

Bridges into the district from Virginia, including the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge, Interstate 395 Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge, will also be closed beginning at 6:00 a.m. Jan. 19 and ending at 6:00 a.m. Jan. 23, Virginia officials said in a statement.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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