Orange County supervisors voted Tuesday to reserve space in a planned Anaheim Hills cemetery not only for veterans, but also for veterans' spouses and people who served in the military or governments of U.S. allied forces in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
In December, the supervisors agreed to convert 2,500 acres donated by the Irvine Company into a cemetery -- with half of the space reserved for veterans -- next to Gypsum Canyon Road near state Route 91 and the 271 Toll Road.
Nick Berardino, president of VALOR, or Veterans Alliance of Orange County, said the board's vote to open the cemetery to allied forces represented "one of the best moments of my life.''
"We fought a war to bring about democracy, to share the American way of life,'' said Berardino, a Vietnam veteran. "... With this proposal to have an Orange County cemetery and a place for our allies to share that cemetery with us is a moment that none of us should ever forget. This is truly a historic moment. I don't know of anywhere else in the United States where that exists.''
County Supervisor Andrew Do, who was a refugee from the Vietnam war, said,
"It's hard for me to convey my thoughts on this item without feeling really emotional.''
"We as a nation showed the world after World War II that we are indeed a fighter that is going to fight for democracy and freedom and to save the world from tyranny,'' Do said. "... That battle continued into the '50s and '60s.''
The allies to the U.S. forces were "fighting as brothers ... and a relationship forged under that type of trial and tribulation is not something that you can take lightly,'' Do said. "This is not only important to the Vietnamese American community or the Korean American community, it should be important to all of us.''
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Do also wanted the cemetery to include spouses of veterans.
"I don't want people to be put in a position to have to choose to be with their compatriots or with their spouse,'' Do said.