The Army is trying to figure out how two marble urns and fourteen marble balusters that were once on display at Arlington National Cemetery came up for sale at an Alexandria, VA auction house. The two 9-foot-tall urns and balusters flanked the amphitheater located next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The urns were removed from the cemetery during a renovation in the 1990s and have been at a Maryland antiques shop since 1997, priced at $125,000 for the pair. The shop is closing, and the owner is auctioning his inventory. The owner reports that he bought the urns from another dealer who in turn bought them from the company that renovated the amphitheater in the 1990s, replacing these urns with new ones. At this point, it is unclear whether the renovation company was allowed to sell the urns or if they were required to dispose of them. The Army has requested that the auction be stopped while it searches for the original agreement made with the contractor to verify rightful ownership. Additionally, preservationists, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, have expressed their concern about the auction. Some believe the urns should again be displayed in the cemetery or in a museum. Additionally, the news of this auction has encouraged preservationists to have Arlington National Cemetery designated as a National Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, which would help to protect its historic artifacts. At this point, the auction is still scheduled for next weekend.
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