At the outset of Governor Gavin Newsom’s May 22, 2020 COVID-19 update at the Yountville Home for Veterans, he made reference to the fact that Californians owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans who served our nation and stated, “it was time to reflect and remember”.  Further, he mentioned his own, “deep respect and admiration” and, offered a “heartfelt thank you and deep respect” to the veterans.

The Yountville Home for Veterans is also the site of the Yountville Veterans Cemetery, located on 11 acres of oak-covered hills in the northwest corner of the Yountville Veterans Home; this historic cemetery marks the resting place of over 5,700 veterans and dependents. Yountville is one of three State of California Veterans Cemeteries, the other two being California Central Coast, Seaside, CA and Northern California Veterans Cemetery, Redding, CA.

Rendition of ARDA site

On May 12, 2020, the Irvine City Council approved a location for a Southern California Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery after nearly seven years of debate.

But due to the Governor’s decision, the project may not have the funding to move forward.  In the revised budget published by the governor on Thursday, May 14, 2020 in which Newsom proposed taking back over $24 million in funds set aside for the cemetery to help replenish the state budget, which currently has a projected $54 billion deficit due to the coronavirus.  In so doing, he was, in fact, disrespecting the veterans in which he held such high regard.

We applaud the Governor for his support of veterans; however, his actions speak differently.   His decision to pull the $ 24 million, which would have allowed the City of Irvine to begin the process of transferring land to the state for the construction of a Southern California veteran’s cemetery, has stopped the process.

Politicians and developers have argued that the money has to be found before the Southern California site is transferred to the State of California and development of the Veterans Memorial Park and Cemetery can break ground.  The politicians and developers are thinking of their futures.  Their next office.  Their need to build more homes on the site.  Their pocketbooks.

They are forgetting about the fact that this land has already been bought and paid for by the veterans who served this country.  They paid for it with time away from family, career and everyday life.  They paid for it with mental and physical injuries.  They paid for it with blood.  They paid for it with their lives.  It is time to give them the land that they defended and earned.

US flags at graves at Veterans cemetery

It would seem that Governor Newsom as well as the many other politicians, who will rightly acknowledge the sacrifices of our veterans, would be able to find funds, any funds, to advance the building of the Southern California Veterans Cemetery in Irvine. There are 1.9 million veterans in California, 115, 000 in Orange County they all need to have their sacrifices recognized by action and not just eulogized in words.

Ray Roschmann has lived in Irvine since 1973. He has held executive positons with major food and advertising firms. Also, adjunct faculty at Chapman University and part time at Redlands, USC and Concordia. He helped gather signatures for the Irvine ARDA initiative.

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