A ceremonial golden bell was struck 64 times with a resounding clang on Memorial Day morning at the East Union Cemetery remembering those who had given their lives for their country in wars from World War I to the Global War on Terror.
The event was presented by the McFall-Grisham American Legion Post 249 of Manteca with Bob Gonzales serving as its commander to honor the memories of those who have given their lives “so that we may be free.” Sylvia Rangel is the Auxiliary President.
The ceremony that first remembered Clinton Hope McFall who lost his life in World War I. World War II names included Kenneth Grisham, Angelo Ponzio, Donald Henson, Delos Stetler, Leslie Harding, Rhys Smith, George Calloway, Roy Warner, Manuel Pimentel, James Weeks, Frank Martin, Clifford Maylon, Harold Jensen, George Shaffer, Lauren Littlefield, Serophine Mendeiros, James Conners, Homer Spence, Donald Reiger, Fred Hesser, Wesley Stuart, Anthony Blanco, Llofy Bryan, Clifford White, Carl Peterson, John R. Machado, Joseph Pfister, Cyril Whisman, Frances Ray Jackson, Everett Trunbull, Betram Daviner, Dale Sizemore, James Blankenship, American Bettencourt, Vicco Peterson, Walter Bigson, Jr., Edwin C. Condos and William Winchester.
Those lost in the Korean War included Gordon Thompson, Alvin R. Medes, Billy Freeman, Clarence Avila, Clarence McNames, Louis Gomes and John C. Martin.
Manteca soldiers lost in the Vietnam War included Brock Elliott, Charles White, Fredrick Lopez, William McJimsey, David Gore, Jessee Rodriguez, Caral Borgen, Joseph Tafoya, Robert Davenport, Joseph A. Lewis, Jr., Bruce Souers, Larry Motley, Jack landers, James Lowry, W. Grant Uhls, William Morgan and Gale Butcher.
Two were lost in Iraq: Michael W. Vega and Charles Palmer III.
The National Anthem was sung by Robyn Glover with the Invocation given by Pastor Dave Blanco.
Give Every Child a Chance administrator Chuck Crutchfield served as the morning’s guest speaker who noted that his dad had been a career Army man who retired as a master sergeant stationed. He served in Germany and then at Fort Ord where his sister was born.
The Department of the Army saw that he was buried in Arlington Cemetery on General Patton Drive where he was considered one of his heroes.
“Nothing has impacted me like the Arlington Cemetery with its rolling hills, the changing of the guard, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier along with the monuments and the countless headstones paying tribute to our service men and women,” Crutchfield said.
He added that country singer Lee Greenwood has a song called, “God Bless the USA” and in that song there are a few lyrics that I think are worth repeating today:
“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget those who died, who gave that right to me. I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today ‘cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA.”
Crutchfield said that the song always makes him very proud and causes him to pause and think of Manteca and its title as the “most patriotic city in America.” He added that each time he visits Brock Elliott School – named after the war hero – and witnesses the students’ very impressive salute to the fallen soldiers from the Vietnam War and drives down Manteca’s main streets and sees the thousands of flags saluting America, the military and the American way of life, as well as the war murals on the side of the Manteca Bedquarters building and the Not Forgotten Event held every year gives honor to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and did what had to be done.
“For those veterans, here today and those currently serving we can never say thank you enough for your courage, bravery, service and dedication to our country and for protecting our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy,” Crutchfield stressed.