For Irvine residents who pay close attention to local politics, they know that the proposed veterans cemetery has been a political hot potato for some time now. Sadly, veterans have been used by some to create a political wedge issue to gain leverage, or even power, in local Irvine politics. It is sad that some forces in our community would attempt to use veterans like this.
As voters, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. If any candidate sends you campaign literature for or against a potential veterans cemetery, view it with a careful and skeptical eye.
We advise that because the veterans cemetery issue in Irvine is essentially settled. And the only reason to use it in campaign purposes is to try and use veterans for political gain. It is gross. It is wrong. And we should not tolerate it from people running to represent us on the Irvine City Council.
Irvine has a tremendous American military history. Upon the entry of the United States into World War II in the aftermath of the 1941 Pearl Harbor strike, sprawling lima bean fields in Irvine were selected by the United States military as an important and strategic site for the United States Marines. In August of 1942 construction began to convert the previously agricultural land to the El Toro Marine Corps air station.
When the base was officially closed in 1999 that is when the politics around its future uses started and have been going one ever since. For years political fights broke out over whether to turn El Toro into an international airport or a park. At one point the site was approved as an airport then later that decision was overturned by voters and it was approved to be a park. Now it is the site of the Orange County Great Park.
In recent years, the debate has been over whether the site should also have space for a veterans cemetery. Few people in Irvine politics disagree with having a cemetery for servicemen and servicewomen in the city, but the debate has been over where. But some political players have tried to assert inaccurately that their political opponents are trying to block a cemetery altogether. That is not the case.
It has been a long and complicated road for the El Toro Marine base, but its future is bright, and residents should rest assured that there will be a memorial to our veterans here. Do not let politicians running for office try and exploit the issue any further or use our veterans as political props.