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Let your neighbors know about your loved one’s service

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POSTED May 17, 2009 12:41 a.m.
We bellyache a lot.

But when you come down to it how bad do we really have it?

Actually, this is a pretty good life most of us are leading even with job losses, a retraction of government services, large class sizes on the way and just about any economic malady you want to cite.

Am I crazy? No, just thankful.

Even if we’re living on the proverbial edge today it’s a much better place to be thanks to the men and women who work to protect America 24/7. It is an undeniable truth that all of the liberty and wealth we enjoy today was made possible by the blood, sweat and tears of an American soldier.

Yet rarely – unless we have a loved one serving – do we think of the job our military does for us every second of every day. Our biggest worry is losing our jobs. Their biggest worry is losing their life doing their job.

We worry about our shrinking 401K and retirement while somewhere today in the forsaken terrain of Afghanistan, in the Iraqi desert or some other outpost the chances are there will be a soldier who will make the ultimate sacrifice serving America. You can bet he wished he had a chance to reach retirement even with a 401K that has lost half of its value.

On Saturday, the flags were out along the streets of Manteca marking Armed Forces Day.

Three people when asked had no idea why the flags were flying. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unlike in toleration countries where it is almost mandatory to observe Armed Forces Day, Americans are able to ignore if they chose. Credit that to our military that at its heart is comprised of citizen soldiers who willingly take two to four year chunks out of their life to serve their country.

It is those citizen soldiers that we owe our gratitude.

The 2000 Census showed that almost 1 in 11 Manteca adult residents were or had served in the military. That’s a startling statistic given how we often don’t acknowledge such service. Sure you’ll see Marine Corps stickers on some pickup trucks, “proud mom of a soldier” bumper stickers, and an occasional military flag flying in a front yard but that’s it.

And keep mind those are reminders by the men and women who served or the families of those on active duty.

That is why it is important that we don’t treat this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend as just another three day weekend. Manteca is staging a variety of events from honoring a former Manteca High student – Sammy Davis – who was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Civic Center. The weekend also includes a production honoring veterans, a USO Show complete with fireworks and talks by those who have served on Sunday at Woodward Park and the traditional East Union Cemetery ceremonies on Memorial Day at 10 a.m. That is also the day when the plaza at Big League Dreams sports complex will officially be dedicated to a Manteca man who gave his life in Iraq – Marine Corporal Charles Palmer.

There are scores more who have passed away, who have returned home and who are serving that we should also honor.

Let your neighbors know about those who have served to protect our freedoms and liberties. Their stories are the stories of the American solider. They – and not the generals and other brass we often celebrate – are the heroes of the American military.

The Manteca Bulletin is publishing “A Salute to Those Serving America” on Memorial Day.

It is designed to serve as a collection of short stories along with photos of the men and women who are and who have served America.

We’d like to include those who are now serving as well as those who have been in the Armed Forces whether it was World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror or even during peace time.

You can submit the stories and photos either by sending them via e-mail to dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com (please put Serving America in the tag line) or send them to Manteca Bulletin, 531 E. Yosemite Ave., Manteca, Calif. 95336.

We need you submissions by Thursday, May 21.
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