Orange County Officials Support Veterans Cemetery on County Land

Monday, July 05, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Register)

A number of Orange County officials and military veterans have come together to support building a veterans cemetery on county land in Anaheim Hills, and some of them gathered at the Gypsum Canyon site on July 1, to demonstrate their commitment.

Dozens of veterans, many wearing caps naming a branch of the service or vets organization, filled the seats under a shade tent with a backdrop of brush-covered hills south of the 91 freeway and just east of the 241 toll road.

“We have been supporting this site for a veterans cemetery for years now,” OC Supervisor Don Wagner said. “We are on the cusp of getting it done finally.”

An official state-run veterans cemetery has been discussed for more than a decade in Irvine, but a big slowdown has been fighting among residents and city leaders on which of two sites would work best for the project. When plans in Irvine appeared stalled, county officials stepped in with the roughly 260 acres in Gypsum Canyon that are already planned as a civilian burial ground and have plenty of room for veterans.

Some in Irvine seem ready to let go of conflict and embrace the Anaheim site.

“I love this site. It is beautiful, and I would be honored – I will be honored when I am laid to rest here,” Phil Fuchs, an Air Force veteran and Irvine resident, told the assembled local officials and service members.

After a short ceremony, Irvine City Council members Tammy Kim and Mike Carroll said they’re willing to step aside so the project can go forward in Gypsum Canyon.

“I’m ready to support this site,” Kim said. “We need to do this for our veterans.”

During the event, Marine Corps veteran Bill Cook, who chairs the Orange County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, asked people to imagine the hills covered with rows of white headstones, gleaming in the sun. But Wagner acknowledged paying for the cemetery will be the biggest obstacle. There’s no official cost estimate yet – but it’s likely to be somewhat more than the $24.5 million set aside in previous state budgets.

Still, Wagner said county officials hope to break ground on the veterans cemetery, which would be started before the civilian side, by the end of this year.

Category: Orange County, Irvine