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Remembering the 11% who have served America

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First Lieutenant Kara Siepmann, commander, 69th Public Affairs Detachment, California National Guard was Monday’s keynote speaker at the Veterans’ Day activities. She is a graduate of Sierra High...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/

POSTED November 11, 2013 10:06 p.m.

The annual observance held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year honors an “elite” group of people in the United States, said retired Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker speaking before the small group gathered at Library Park on Monday.

Those who have qualified to be in the service of their country make up just “a small cross section of America’s population” – only 11 percent, said the Air Force veteran who was the keynote speaker during the short Veterans Day program on Monday.

And it’s those people in that small group who are the focus of this red-letter day, he pointed out.

 “Veterans Day is a celebration. It is a celebration of who we are,” said Bricker who credited his late father who fought during World War II for the man he had become.

“So who are we?” he asked, laying out the theme of his message for the day.

Veterans are the ones who cannot watch military and war movies “because we cry every time.”

“We are the Washington Memorial. We are the guardians at the gate. My God, this is our day,” he said to the quiet and attentive audience.

Veterans Day is the time “we stand up and be proud of who we are,” Bricker said.

American soldiers always stand ready to serve their country. It doesn’t matter when, where, and how each and every soldier served. “It only matters that you served,” he stated. “So, who are we? We’re patriots.”

And they are patriots who never fail to give Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford a humbling feeling.

As he gazed at the veterans gathered in the parking lot of the Manteca Public Library gathered for the annual patriotic ceremony and thought of the service they have given to their country, Weatherford simply noted, “I’m humbled.” That’s the same emotion that wells up every time he sees a veteran, he said.

To those who have not served in the military, he gave this advice: “Shake hands with a veteran. They’re the best people you’ll ever meet. Veterans are the people who keep America free.”

While the overwhelming message of the day was to give thanks to all veterans for serving their country, Marine Corps veteran and legislative assistant Scott Terrell who represented San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott (5th District) at the ceremony told those who were in the audience, “We, as veterans, thank you also for being here.”

This year’s Veterans Day program was coordinated by the American Legion Post 249 of Manteca. Members of the Manteca Jimmy Connors Post 6311 Veterans of Foreign Wars also took part in the ceremony with Post Commander Carlon Perry serving as the master of ceremonies.

The traditional posting of the colors was performed by the Manteca Unified School District JROTC Honor Guard directed by East Union instructor Karl Knutsen. Miss Winter Fest 2013 Robyn Glover led the singing of the National Anthem. Thomas Liggett of the FW Post 6311 led the Pledge of Allegiance, while Post Chaplain Larry Lambert recited the invocation.

The ceremony concluded with the traditional 21-gun salute by members of both the Post 6311 VFW and American Legion Post 249, followed by Taps played by George Terry of Post 6311.

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