View Mobile Site

Manteca’s Memorial Day

Text Size: Small Large Medium
Manteca’s Memorial Day

Charles O. Palmer II stands in front of the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall at Guss Schmeidt Field in 1992.

Photo contributed/

POSTED May 22, 2014 1:15 a.m.

Nearly 25,000 people will make their way to Manteca this weekend to take part in the Not Forgotten Memorial Weekend events at Woodward Park. Seven thousand crosses will be on display to represent the brave men and women that have given their lives in service of our country since 9/11. Our once small town is home to largest Memorial Day celebration west of the Mississippi River. This is one event we should not only take pride in, but participate in.

 The streets of Manteca will once again be lined with 2,400 American flags. It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing visible patriotism in my hometown. It reminds me of the feeling I get when driving in town on a Christmas Day, the feeling that every car you pass is sharing in the same emotion. That we are connected in the gratitude we owe to people we have never known. That for a day we can cut through religion, politics, nationality, gender and whatever prevents us from feeling this way every day and see each other as proud Americans.

Whatever your plans are for this weekend – heading to a barbecue, lying by the pool, visiting family, or even those having to work – take a second to remind yourself and those around you that any freedom you are currently afforded was paid for by the lives of American soldiers. Take the time to explain to the kids growing up around you that war isn’t glamorous; that it isn’t a Mark Wahlberg movie where the hero always comes out on top. Some heroes never get the chance to come home and realize the freedoms they have created.

Among the weekend’s activities, which include Patriot Riders, military displays and a USO show, we will also be honoring the late Lt. Emily J.T. Perez. Born in Heidelberg, West Germany, of African American and Hispanic parents in a U.S. military family, she graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Maryland, where she was wing commander of Junior ROTC.  

In July 2001, after graduation from high school, Perez entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. There she was an exemplary student and talented track athlete. Following graduation from West Point in 2005, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Perez was deployed to Iraq in December as a Medical Service Corps officer. She was killed when a makeshift bomb exploded near her Humvee during combat operations in Al Kifl, near Najaf. The 23-year-old was the first female graduate of West Point to die in the Iraq War, the first West Point graduate of the “Class of 9/11” to die in combat, and the first female African-American officer to die in combat. Emily Perez was the 64th female member of the U.S. military to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and the 40th West Point graduate killed since the 9/11 attacks.

On Saturday, we will honor one of our own when the Charles O Palmer II Park groundbreaking takes place. Palmer was one of two Marines killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad, on May 5, 2007. He was the first Manteca soldier to fall in the Global War on Terror.  The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the Oleander Estates area that Raymus Homes is developing southwest of Union Road and Woodward Avenue. For those that knew Charles, the dedication of a park is an absolute fitting tribute. He was an athlete and an avid outdoorsman. I’m sure he would be extremely honored at having somewhere for kids to run and play named after him.

So I look forward to seeing everyone’s faces this weekend. Let’s all make sure we act as gracious hosts, and show people from outside of our “Family City,” why we deserve this moniker.


Grocery store etiquette

On a recent excursion to the grocery store, I ran into an old high school acquaintance. As I made my way past her with the obligatory grocery store head nod, she said “Gonna end up the old guy in the club are we Teicheira?!” Now for the record, I am a 41-year-old bachelor. I may or may not have been wearing blue coveralls and flip-flops – while carrying six bags of Lay’s potato chips. In my defense it was buy two get one free, yet I digress. 

Her comment was a bit too snarky for grocery store banter in my opinion. That kind of shot across my bow should be reserved for a Christmas party or when I’m at Crocodiles Night Club on a Tuesday night. I went through my mental retort Rolodex for the perfect comeback. “Do you set up your summer base camp here in the ice cream section, and then winter in the bakery with the rest of the dog sled team?!” came to mind. Fortunately my train of thought was broken by her 5-year-old’s exclamation of “I hate this kind of cereal. I don’t want it.”

I took the high road and simply answered her initial question with “Who knows? See ya.” I felt I had won the encounter. My friends were quick to point out that without her realizing that I held back my witty retort, due to the fact that her kid’s actions made me resolute in my bachelorhood, that I had indeed lost this battle. Why? Stay tuned for next week’s Manteca to a T, when we discuss Grocery Store 101: The Rules Of Engagement.

In truth, I’m keeping this week’s column short and sweet because I have 400 acres that need to be disced, ripped, rolled, landplaned, and planted with corn ... and it needed to be done 10 days ago.

Manteca to a T!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. Take the time to remember the men and women who have given their lives so you can yell at the television when your team is losing … Or when you are enjoying that third hot link ... Or when you are walking through the mall looking for a great deal ... Or when you take your niece and nephew out to Charles O Palmer II Memorial Park a few years from now to play catch. Make sure they know the sacrifices that have been made just for them.


“It’s not where ya do, It’s what ya do.”

Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...