IRVINE, Calif.—The Orange County Board of Supervisors (BOS) on July 27 approved a $20 million spending plan for a veteran’s cemetery in Anaheim Hills.
The cemetery was initially planned to be based at a former Marine Corps. Air Station in Irvine, but when those plans fell through after years of political controversy, the site moved to Gypsum Canyon.
Veterans shared mixed feelings about the location during the BOS meeting, with some speaking in support of the move.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Nick Berardino, president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County.
Berardino compared the treatment veterans received from Irvine to returning from the Vietnam War and being verbally attacked by a crowd as they walked off a plane.
Other veterans spoke out against the change.
“This is very special to me and all the veterans who trained there when it was MCAS El Toro,” one public speaker said. “We veterans consider this site hallowed ground because it still has the original runway, control tower, and hangars.”
He continued, “There is only one place fitting and appropriate for this Veterans Memorial Park and cemetery in Orange County. Unfortunately, politics and greed have gotten in the way of getting the veteran’s cemetery built in Irvine.”
Before finishing his statement, the veteran was cut off.
While Supervisor Andrew Do insisted that the veteran took a seat, the crowd cried out in the background insisting that the board let him finish speaking. The veteran continued speaking before Do asked that the veteran “be quiet” and conduct himself properly prior to calling a deputy to assist in the matter.
Another resident of Irvine also spoke against the move, saying that it will cost more due to the site in Anaheim Hills being in a fire zone and on unstable land.
The BOS voted unanimously in favor of cemetery funding while vocalizing its support for the new site.
Supervisor Don Wagner commented on the opposing standpoints of moving the cemetery, stating that the former El Toro site was not “hollow ground” rather a site that veterans were insistent upon.
Wagner added that the former Irvine site was “least acceptable to the feds” and the “least likely” to result in a veteran cemetery.
Wagner’s comments immediately resulted in an uproar from the crowd disagreeing with his statements.
The BOS’s vote was proceeded by Anaheim city council’s endorsement of the site during a July 20 meeting.