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Vets issued Americans a blank check

There isn’t a day that goes by that Mike Cearley doesn’t think about his fellow veterans. 

The former Navy boiler technician – who spent eight years enlisted, four assigned to an aircraft carrier in Alameda and four on a destroyer out of San Diego – has spent the last 25 years as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and since June has served as the Commander of Jimmy Connors Post 6311. 

And that means that every day Cearley is working with, or on behalf of, veterans who have served their country. 

But on Monday, when the entire country will slow down to honor those who served dutifully, Cearley – who came to the Manteca post from Stockton to help renew the focus on the group’s mission – said that he’ll be thankful for not only his fellow veterans, but also the people who go out of their way to stay thank you to them. 

And in more than two decades, he hasn’t seen a city that does that quite as well as Manteca does. 

“Veterans’ Day is a day to recognize everybody for their service to this country,” Cearley said. “Memorial Day is for people who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but Veteran’s Day are for people who served our country and deserve their recognition. 

“These are people who issued a blank check – a check that said that they were willing to give up their life for their country if need be. And what really drew me to Manteca was the willingness of the community to support the veterans who were willing to make that sacrifice – that level of support really stood out to me.”

Since June Cearley has been working with the rest of the post administrators to get back to the core missions of the organization – to help veterans who can’t help themselves, to work in the community, and to promote the programs they provide in local schools. 

One school-based program, Patriot’s Pen – an essay contest for local middle school students – drew such a large turnout that Cearley himself went to Mrs. Teicheira’s class at Nile Garden Elementary School to thank the students for their thoughtful and touching responses. 

And working to benefit veterans will always be, Cearley said, at the forefront of the group’s mission. 

On Monday Cearley said he will be at Library Park at 11 a.m. for the city’s Veterans’ Day celebration and looks forward to seeing the public come out and support veterans and their service to the country, and he has no doubts that Manteca will rise to the occasion. 

“When you’re in the larger cities sometimes you don’t see that – but Manteca is a little bit like Mayberry RFD in that regard,” he said. “Those small-town values where people care about those who served their country are still here, and that’s impressive to see.

“I’m proud to serve this organization here in Manteca, and I know that Manteca is proud of the veterans that served their country.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.