OC raises flag over future site of first veterans cemetery

Jessica De Nova Image
Friday, December 2, 2022
OC raises flag over future site of first veterans cemetery
After more than a decade of planning and setbacks, Orange County has raised the flag over the future home of its first veterans cemetery.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- After more than a decade of community organizing, proposals, setbacks and legislative action, Orange County raised the flag Wednesday over the future home of its first veterans cemetery.

When progress of the project at its originally proposed site in Irvine came to a halt, state and local leaders teamed up once again with veterans to bring it to Gypsum Canyon in Anaheim Hills.

One of those was California's 65th District Assemblymember, Sharon Quirk-Silva.

"We've had our twists and turns, our ups and downs and there have been literally tears shed over trying to get this to this point," Quirk-Silva said.

Don Wagner, a member of Orange County's Board of Supervisors, said the flagraising sent a clear message.

"With that flag flying behind me, we're saying to not just the entire Orange County community, but we're saying to the entire Southern California community: 'This is the place our veterans deserve. This is the place we're gonna give to them, for the dignified cemetery that they have so long, so long needed,'" Wagner said.

That's because the nearest veteran cemeteries in the region are in Riverside, Los Angeles and San Diego counties - about 50 to 100 miles away.

This one will sit on land donated to the county, on a 260-acre lot next to a new public cemetery.

State funding has already provided $24 million for this project and federal funding may be on the way.

All present at Wednesday's ceremony gave credit to the veterans working toward this effort since day one to help honor those who have and will sacrifice so much for our freedom.

Vietnam veteran and Veterans Alliance of Orange County (VALOR) member Bobby McDonald said it was about not forgetting those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"When we were up there, to hear the truckers going by honking their horns and stuff - that's what this is all about," McDonald said. "I mean for all my buddies that didn't make it home from Vietnam, for all those Buffalo Soldiers and other members of the different ethnic organizations that fought for our country."

The next phase of this project is a CalVet study funded by the county to determine the viability of the land for a cemetery.