Proposed Veterans Cemetery a Divisive Issue for Orange County, California

For the first time, I am going to take a look at a much more local issue. In Irvine, CA, one of the most divisive issues is the veterans cemetery, and what land it goes on. For starters, the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro closed down in 1999, and was used in every war since World War II till then. In 2014, state Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s bill was approved to build a 125-acre cemetery at the developing Great Park. The other nearest ones, in Los Angeles and Riverside, have issues of their own. Then people started having concerns about building the cemetery next to Portola High School (which was also controversial) and the new neighborhoods FivePoint is building.

Now comes the land swap and the petition. FivePoint has offered some of their land by the I-5 and I-405 meeting place, but will only give 25 acres, to assure it will only be strictly used for the cemetery. This has caused a petition to surface, as both residents and veterans are divided over where the veterans cemetery should be placed. Some want the cemetery to be where the actual base is. Others thinks it would be beneficial to place it where FivePoint owns (which is currently Strawberry Fields).

As of right now, flags of all the military branches are being placed at the Strawberry Fields site. It is seemingly the best option for the cemetery, because it would be easier to construct as more visible to the public. The other plot would be much more hidden, would have to be tested for toxicity, and may also pose traffic problems.  

However, there is one major upside to signing the petition to have the site at its original location. And it’s not the land. It is the fact that city council and residents are able to keep the conversation going. At the end of the day, it does not matter whose political agenda this issue advances. It needs to be about the veterans who sacrificed their lives for our country and where they and their loved ones want them to be laid to rest.  

-Cameron A.

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