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‘They are not forgotten’

Manteca ready for major Memorial Day weekend events

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‘They are not forgotten’

Former French Camp resident and Manteca High student Sammy Davis wipes his eye during ceremonies conducted several years ago honoring those who have died serving America. The Medal of Honor recipie...

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED May 21, 2009 2:25 a.m.

Manteca’s highest decorated soldier – Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis - is being honored Friday morning in a ceremony kicking off four days of activities saluting the men and women who have served America in our nation’s armed forces.
Manteca’s One Nation under God event is being heralded as the largest Memorial Day weekend commemoration this year on the West Coast. It will include a 21-gun salute by Howitzer cannons being brought to Woodward Park from Camp Parks as well as aerial fireworks Sunday night.

Sunday is the big gathering at Woodward Park featuring a USO Show from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. It will feature free entertainment, a military vehicle display, free food and drinks for veterans, CHP K-9 exhibit, children’s fun center, exhibits and concessions, veteran services, Soldiers Angels collection center, aircraft fly over, special tribute to wounded warriors, a ceremony honoring veterans, marching bands, and the Moving Wall tribute to those who have died so far in the Global War on Terror.

The official program will feature speakers Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Sammy Davis who attended Manteca High for three years, Sgt. Bob Gutierrez of the famous Navajo Code Talkers who befuddled the Japanese, and Sgt. Earl Watson who is a Battle of the Bulge survivor. The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest battle of World War II.

Those Japanese Americans who served in the 442nd Brigade, for whom a segment of Highway 99 is named in honor of, will also be attending. They served America in the European theater during World War II despite having their families placed in internment camps.
Music will be provided by the Mi Wuk church choir and band as well as “We are Family.”

The program will end with a 21-gun salute from Howitzers.

“I guess we should warm the residents in the area not to be alarmed,” said Pastor Mike Dillman who is organizing the four-day event. “They are pretty loud.”

Then at 8:45 p.m. aerial fireworks will take place over Woodward Park to “celebrate the return of our soldiers from Iran and Afghanistan.”

Dillman promoted the event Tuesday at the City Council meeting as he distributed baseball caps reading “One Nation under God” to elected leaders. More caps will be given free to veterans – who also will be fed without charge – who attend Sunday’s event. The committee has already sent caps to Palo Alto Veterans Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital “to make sure our men and women there know that they are not forgotten.”

“We intend to celebrate the diversity that is the American soldier,” Dillman said last month. “When many think of a soldier they think of a white face but that is simply not the case. Men and women from all walks of life have served our country well.”

Dillman noted 11,000 of the 58,913 Americans killed in Vietam were African Americans with nearly as many Hispanic-Americans dying as well.

Gold Star families are also being recognized. Dillman said that 38 families from San Joaquin-Stanislaus counties have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recognizing Medal of Honor recipient
The four days start off at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 22, with a ceremony honoring Manteca native and Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis. It will take place at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Davis attended Manteca High through his junior year. He enlisted in the Army at age 18.

Dedication of memorial wall to Sgt. Palmer
On Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, sunrise will come to Manteca with 2,500 flags lining the streets as part of the Flags Over Manteca effort. Then at 9 a.m., the memorial wall honoring Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer II will be dedicated at the Big League Dreams sports complex plaza. Palmer was killed in Iraq while serving America.

Then at 10:30 a.m. the traditional Memorial Day service takes place at East Union Cemetery.

The day – and weekend – will end at 8 p.m. with the playing of taps and the retiring of the colors at the BLD complex.

‘Not Forgotten’ Musical-drama
The Place of Refuge, 486 Button Ave., will stage its poignant “Not Forgotten” musical drama on Saturday, May 23, at 2 and 6 p.m.

The production is a tribute to the fallen as well as those who have served America.
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