Honor veterans by voting yes on Irvine’s Measure B

By JENNIFER MUIR BEUTHIN, Contributing Columnist

This past Memorial Day weekend, so many of my neighbors put out their American flags to honor those who have fallen in service to our country, whose sacrifices allowed us to barbecue and enjoy the beautiful sunny day.

A small but beautiful gesture of unity in a country that is so deeply divided.

It made me feel hope for veterans and their families who live in our community that maybe this June, voters in Irvine will draw from that same patriotic place and give veterans what they’ve been working to accomplish for nearly 20 years — a veterans cemetery in Orange County.

There has never been a greater opportunity for Orange County residents to take more meaningful action in honor of veterans than to vote yes on Measure B.

The ballot measure represents decades of work by veterans who first fought for our country and now are fighting for a resting place that isn’t hours away from their loved ones. Measure B represents a compromise that will complete a cemetery in the old strawberry fields at the Great Park. And it protects taxpayers by forcing a local developer to pay $10 million in costs.

In fact, voting yes on Measure B restricts housing developers from adding traffic to Irvine roads and stops developers from building anything that isn’t already planned.

It’s not only supported by major veterans groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War. It has the support of both the Republican and Democratic parties of Orange County.

And placing a veterans cemetery in the old strawberry fields at the Great Park already has been approved by local, state and federal governments.

So why is this even a debate?

Because a small group of politically motivated individuals, including former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, is running an anti-Measure B campaign claiming that a no vote will “save” the veterans cemetery when the only thing a no vote will save it from is being built at all.

The Orange County Register’s editorial board laid out what’s really going on in a recent editorial: “Sadly, this is par for the course in Irvine where creating a political wedge issue and riding it to the election seems torn right out of the pages of former Irvine Mayor and Councilman Larry Agran’s playbook.”

They have gone too far.

Both my grandfathers — World War II veterans — are buried more than two hours away at Riverside National Cemetery. It’s is one of the busiest cemeteries in the nation. I visit their graves infrequently — whenever another friend who served passes away.

It’s the same each time: We caravan across crowded freeways. We park and wait for the funeral scheduled before us to wrap up before we can begin. We hurry away as soon as our allotted time is up, conscious of the family and friends waiting to begin their services when ours end. I stop to pay respects to Grandpa Jack (Navy) and his wife Grandma Ruth and to Grandpa Bob (Army). Then we drive bumper-to-bumper back to a home in Orange County or to a hall or restaurant somewhere in between.

Every time I leave feeling the enormity of the promises each of those veterans made to us when they went away to fight — what those who came back carried with them as they moved through life here.

The veterans who have been fighting for this cemetery were made promises too — promises from politicians over 20 years who said they would have a place in their own communities where their sacrifices would be honored, where they could be laid to rest.

We are just days away from fulfilling that promise. It’s not fair to force these brave women and men to fight longer, to wait longer. Please vote yes on Measure B.

And if you have any additional questions about the impact of the measure or any other misinformation that you may hear, visit honorocveterans.com for more information.

Jennifer Muir Beuthin is general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

Publication Date: May 30, 2018