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Free teen concert set next to Vietnam Moving Memorial
The High Voltage Band is performing a free concert on May 22 at Woodward Park. - photo by Photo Contributed

A free Memorial Day Weekend concert and rally for junior high and high school teens is being planned at Woodward Park on Friday, May 22, at 6 p.m. near the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall.

The High Voltage Band featuring Matthew Grattan on lead guitar and vocals, Paul Grattan on drums and vocals, and Nolan Harris on bass and vocals will perform their own unique style of pop and punk rock. They have been playing venues in Northern California and the Central Valley for over three years with more than 250 shows under their belt. Venues ranged from small clubs to large outdoor concerts of 3,000 people. They recently returned from a three-night tour of Hollywood and played at legendary venues such as The House of Blues, Molly Malones, and The Whiskey a Go Go.

The Moving Wall is part of an expanded Memorial Weekend commemoration May 21-25 at Woodward Park.  The free concert is designed as a way to bring young people to Woodward Park that weekend to get a better understanding of the price of freedom.

The Moving Wall — an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. — is returning to Manteca a little more than 20 years after its first appearance.

Manteca Ford and Exotic Highline donated the final $5,000 toward the $20,000 it took to secure the memorial for the five-day appearance.

“I am excited that our community will have an opportunity to pay tribute to a monument that has come to represent those who fought and died in a conflict that spanned decades and left a nation forever marred by its controversy,” noted dealership owner Phil Waterford Sr.

Manteca Ford has been a staunch supporter of the annual Memorial Weekend Commemoration — the largest of its kind in the West.

The dealership is taking an additional step in partnership with the Memorial Weekend committee to raise additional funds needed to meet the overall $80,000 cost of the event. They are offering 300 chances at $100 apiece to win a Ford Focus. The tickets are available at the North Main Street dealership and the Place of Refuge church on Button Avenue.

The wall first appeared in Manteca over a five-day period in March of 1995. Upwards of 15,000 people made their way to the school’s football stadium to see the wall that contains the names of 18 men who attended Manteca Unified School District schools among the 57,000 fallen.

Some 5,000 were on hand in 1995 for the emotionally charged surprise reunion between keynote speaker and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis and one of the men whose lives he saved — Gwyndell Holloway. Many Vietnam veterans, overwhelmed by the names of comrades who didn’t return home, opted to visit late at night and in the early morning hours with many sleeping  under the stars near the wall. Of those, a number never uttered a word as they paid their respects.

Pastor Mike Dillman, the lead organizer of the Memorial Weekend Commemoration and a Vietnam veteran himself,  noted that a third of those who served in Vietnam and who returned home have since passed away.

Dillman is working with school officials to arrange for students from Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon unified school districts to be bused to the Moving Wall. There he hopes to have volunteer Vietnam veterans talk with the students.

“The history of Vietnam often isn’t taught in school anymore,” Dillman said. “We want students to understand what happened.”

The committee organization the memorial event is raising funds to cover bus transportation costs for the students. By the end of the five-day appearance, Dillman  expects the Moving Wall to have attracted at least 50,000 people.

Those visiting the wall will be able to do rubbings of names just like as at the original Vietnam Memorial  in the nation’s capital.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email