After about a decade of controversial debate and political inaction, Orange County officials and veterans appear to be moving forward with a veterans cemetery in Anaheim Hills.

At a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, they unfurled a huge 30-by-60-foot American flag, called “Flag One,” which will dominate the proposed cemetery site.

For about a decade, veterans fought for the cemetery to be built in Irvine, but local politicians could not agree on where it should be placed.

Veterans and local city officials wear “Flag One” at the proposed Veterans Cemetery site in Anaheim Hills.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

One of the areas under consideration in Irvine, called the ARDA site, was supported by some residents and the former mayor of Irvine and current city councilor Larry Agran. Other officials, residents and veterans groups favored the construction of the cemetery on land in the Grand Parc that was once intended to be a golf course. Both sites were part of the now defunct El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

The ARDA site was chosen by authorities in 2014. But in 2017 another site was proposed, with FivePoint proposing a land swap deal that was ultimately rejected by Irvine residents in the primary elections. from 2018.

The council later voted to build the cemetery on land that was to be a golf course in the Great Park.

Veterans and officials gather for a photo during a groundbreaking shovel at the proposed Veterans Cemetery site in Anaheim Hills.

Veterans and officials gather for a photo during a groundbreaking shovel at the proposed Veterans Cemetery site in Anaheim Hills.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Last year, the council decided to support a citizens’ initiative to zone the 125-acre ARDA site for the cemetery. But after an election and a change of mayor, feelings changed on the council. At the end of last month, all hope for an Irvine-based cemetery seemed lost when, after a lengthy meeting, Irvine City Council failed to come to an agreement.

All 34 towns in Orange County have now expressed their support for the Anaheim Hills site. The massive support for the site was evident during the groundbreaking ceremony, with the five county supervisors present there, as well as city officials.

The Orange County Veterans Alliance, which defended the cemetery, supports the Anaheim Hills site, as well as all Foreign War Veterans posts in the county and several American Legion posts.

Veterans and local officials go wild "Flag one" at the proposed Veterans Cemetery in Anaheim Hills.

Veterans and local authorities deploy “Flag One” at the proposed Veterans Cemetery in Anaheim Hills.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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