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5,800 crosses at Woodward Park
Memorial Day event honors War on Terror dead
A teen inspects the Traveling Tribute at last year’s Memorial Day Weekend event at Woodward Park. - photo by Bulletin file photo
Managing editor of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Some 5,800 crosses planted on the expansive green grass of Woodward Park over Memorial Day Weekend will serve as reminder of the heavy price of freedom.

The crosses – one for each of the men and women who have died in the Global War on Terror while serving America – is just part of an expanded effort to “commemorate and celebrate” those who have worn the country’s uniform in times of war and peace.

Among the major events planned for the three-day weekend are:

•The dedication of the ninth panel for the Traveling Tribute to those who have laid down their lives in the Global War on Terror. One thousand names have been added since the tribute was first dedicated two years ago. The inscription on the ninth panel – in addition to the 1,000 names – will detail the heroics of Michael Monsoor of Garden Grove in Southern California. The Navy Seal threw himself on a grenade in Afghanistan killing himself but saving the lives of six of his fellow soldiers. Sally Monsoor, the mother of the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, will be on hand for the dedication.

•An aerial fly-by that will include F16s that will pass over Woodward Park after taking off from the decks of the USS Eisenhower stationed in San Diego.

•A full-scale USO Show May 30 from 3 to 5 p.m. featuring Denver & The Mile High Band that won the televised competition to become America’s next big band,

•A Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 31, down Yosemite Avenue. The parade is being organized by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce. Call 823-6121 for details.

•A hosted dinner at Prestige Senior Living for 42 Gold Star families within a 50-mile radius of Manteca that have lost a son or daughter in the Global War on Terror. They will travel from Prestige Living to Woodward Park by police escort on Saturday, May 29, for the dedication of the ninth panel of the Traveling Tribute.

•A replica of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier will be at Woodward Park.

•Over 200 classic military vehicles will be on display.

•The South San Joaquin Irrigation District will sponsor a Kids Energy Zone with bounce houses and such.

•The Ripon Police bagpipe band will perform.

•A 5K run will take place May 30 that will include Derek McInnis, the soldier who lost a leg in Iraq and is the author of “Exit Wounds.” McInnis also will give a speech during the official ceremonies late Sunday afternoon.

•An authentic military mess tent from World War II will be set up.

•Manteca Police will perform SWAT and K-9 demonstrations.

•An aerial fireworks show – significantly larger than last year – on May 30 will celebrate the safe return of all of those who have fought in the Global War on Terror.

•Taps on Memorial Day evening at 7 p.m. will officially close the event.

•There also will be local talent providing entertainment and other facilities as well.

Pastor Mike Dillman of The Place of Refuge, who is heading up the Memorial Weekend celebration, noted having the crosses and tribute in the same venue as the USO Show and other entertainment is “very appropriate.”

“This is to commemorate and celebrate,” Dillman said. “We enjoy the things we do today because of the men and women who have died protecting our freedoms. It is appropriate that the two are happening at the same time.