On March 11, the Irvine City Council passed a Resolution of Support to establish a 100-acre State Veterans Memorial and Cemetery at the Great Park. With city council approval, the measure will be sent to Sacramento where the California state legislature and Governor Jerry Brown will evaluate the bill. The bill must be considered by the state legislature because memorials and cemeteries are considered state property.
The resolution passed in a four to one vote: Mayor Steven Choi, Jeffrey Lalloway, Larry Agran and Beth Krom voted to pass the measure while Councilmember Christina Shea voted against it. According to Liberal OC Magazine, Councilmember Shea suggested an alternate amendment in support of private developer FivePoint Communities, an organization which would most likely use the allocated Great Park land to construct houses.
Democrat Councilmember Larry Agran introduced the Resolution of Support to the Irvine City Council after State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva proposed measure AB 1453, which suggested the construction of the first state Veteran Cemetery in Southern California and has yet to be evaluated in the state legislature.
Silva’s call for a new State Veterans Memorial and Cemetery in Southern California is a response to complaints from veterans and their families. In California, there is an overcrowding at existing veteran cemeteries, which has persisted since the beginning of WWI in the 1940s and the tragic extent of casualties resulting from the following WWII, Korean and Vietnam wars. The federal and state governments, operating on limited budgets especially during the postwar recession of the late 1900s, constructed and maintained veteran cemeteries adequately accommodating families during the era. However, as the Iraq War reaches an end, the U.S finds its veteran cemeteries reaching their capacity. In Southern California, a region highly populated with veterans – according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Orange County alone hosts over 133,000 veterans, the sixth largest veteran population in the United States – there is currently no veteran designated cemetery.
The Irvine City Council is currently deliberating whether the Great Park is a suitable site for a veterans cemetery. The Great Park formerly hosted the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro.
Written by CHRISTINE SMET