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Op-Ed: Build the Veterans Cemetery Now

After years of enduring manipulation and bludgeoning from individual political agendas, veterans are finally poised to secure a cemetery on the proposed “golf course site” to honor our nation’s heroes. The only obstacle to building the cemetery is more political nonsense. The following demonstrates the many compromises that have been made by veterans and some elected officials who have worked tirelessly to make a veterans cemetery in Orange County a reality:

1. We were told that the cemetery had to be in the great park … so we selected a spot right in the middle of the great park.

2. We were also told that it needed be located at the former El Toro Marine Base … so we picked a spot that is right in the middle of the former base.

3. We were told about state taxpayer concerns relative to costs … so we picked a spot that will only cost taxpayers $24.5 million instead of $91 million, saving more than $60 million.

4. Taxpayers throughout the state have screamed for years about the importance of public/private partnerships. We have established a public/private partnership wherein the private partner has committed $33 million and more if necessary to complete the project.

5. We were told that the school district was concerned about the sounds of gunshots each day … so we agreed to the site that the school district requested.

6. We were told that the community surrounding the Great Park had concerns about the cemetery being next to their homes … so we picked a site that is away from their homes which they are “satisfied” with … not overjoyed, but satisfied.

It is almost impossible to understand what else any reasonable well-intended individual or group could ask of veterans.

We veterans stood up to protect and serve our nation. We now ask the state Legislature, which represents the great democracy we defended, to stand up for us and support building the cemetery immediately on the proposed “golf course site.”

Nick Berardino is president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County (VALOR)