Letter to CA Legislature

We, the undersigned, are Orange County veterans. We are joined by thousands of other veterans in Southern California who, like us, have served our country honorably — many of us in wartime. Public officials frequently tell us that they “honor our service.” We ask those who honor our service with their words to also honor us by their deeds — by fulfilling their now 7-year-old promise to build the Southern California Veterans Cemetery on the 125-acre “ARDA” site at the 1,300-acre Great Park in Irvine. The ARDA site is located on the hallowed ground of the former Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro.

In 2014, when AB 1453 (Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva) was adopted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the state-funded Southern California Veterans Cemetery seemed destined to be built and become operational on schedule, by Veterans Day 2019. But a major developer and certain local elected officials teamed-up in 2016 and began putting forward “alternative sites” in an effort to delay, derail and defeat the Veterans Cemetery at the ARDA site, which would have enabled the developer to gain control of that site.

The voters of Irvine have repeatedly weighed-in on the matter, rejecting one scheme after another to abandon the ARDA site. Finally, Irvine citizens wrote their own Initiative law to specify and ensure that the original ARDA site was the one and only site supported by the people of Irvine for the Veterans Cemetery. By the terms of the Initiative, the ARDA site was permanently reserved for that purpose under Irvine Zoning law.

The latest “alternative” site being promoted by developer-supported politicians — Gypsum Canyon — is unstudied, unapproved and, according to experts, likely to be found unworkable and unaffordable. Meanwhile, the ARDA site in Irvine is the only approved site. It was thoroughly studied by CalVet and approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for placement on the federal grant priority list, making it eligible for up to $10 million.

Burial at a beautiful State Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery is an earned benefit of our military service. We ask that there be no more diversionary schemes. No more delays. It is time to honor our service by honoring the promises that were made to us. Build the Southern California Veterans Cemetery now, as promised, at the ARDA site at the Great Park, in Irvine.

Frank McGill
Capt. USAF 1968-1974

Eugene Kaplan
Capt. USAF 1964-1970

Larry Bales
USN 1967-1969
Board Member

Bil Aulenbach
Capt. USMC 1953-1960
Board Member

Raymond Cordova
US Army 1956-1963
Board Member