The sacrifices made during the Vietnam War will not be forgotten.
That’s the mission of Pastor Mike Dillman of the Place of Refuge and the small army of volunteers who are gearing up to make the 2015 edition of the Memorial Day Weekend Commemoration the biggest ever staged.
The Vietnam War Moving Wall Memorial will be at Woodward Park turning the one-day observation into a five-day event.
The last time the Moving Wall was in Manteca it drew over 25,000 visitors in 1993 to the Manteca High football stadium. That visit was arranged by now retired teacher Harry Nagy who — like Dillman — is a veteran of the Vietnam War. It was during that event that the emotional reunion between former Manteca High student and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis and the man whose live he saved in a faraway Southeast Asia jungle that he hadn’t seen since — Gwyndell Holloway — were part of a surprise emotionally charged reunion before 15,000 people.
The Memorial Weekend event typically draws between 20,000 and 30,000 people from throughout Northern California.
Next year Dillman expects 50,000 people to make their way to Woodward Park. Part of that number will include students from Manteca Unified and Ripon Unified — and possible Escalon Unified — that the organizing committee has made arrangements to visit the Moving Wall.
Once there, Vietnam veterans will be on hand to tell their stories of the war that claimed the lives of 18 promising Manteca young men who at one time all walked the halls of Manteca High or East Union High, cruised Yosemite Avenue, and looked forward to Memorial Day as another school holiday.
The committee has promised to cover the cost of bus transportation to make sure the students can attend.
“The Vietnam War is not being taught in the schools,” Dillman said, “We want to make sure what happened isn’t forgotten.”