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Mural Society needs $25K for WWII veterans mural
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The race is on to raise the funds needed for the installation and dedication of the mural honoring the veterans of World War II.

The goal is to have the project completed in time for the centennial celebration of Manteca’s incorporation as a city which took place in 1918 with Joshua Cowell as the first mayor. Hence, the Manteca Mural Society has initiated “a very, very aggressive” goal of raising $25,000 in the next two years.

“We are trying to raise the funds so that we can start getting artists and ideas together to do the next mural,” said Gayl Wilson who, along with husband Tom, was one of the founding members of the non-profit organization whose public-art projects are entirely privately funded.

Since the mural society’s founding in 2002, the city now boasts 27 murals. The last one was dedicated on Nov. 11 as part of the community’s celebration of Veterans Day. Titled “EagleHearts” by Manteca artist Jessie Marinas, the 16x20-foot mural honoring the veterans of the War on Terror is one of what eventually will be a collection of five murals for each major war conflict starting with World War I. This veterans’ wall graces the east side of the Manteca Bedquarters building in downtown Manteca. It’s right up against a public parking lot in the heart of the business district at the intersection of Yosemite Avenue and North Main Street.

So far, the society has received $5,000 donations for the World War II mural project.

Wilson said they hope to “start doing matching-fund donations so that we can double what we’ve been able to raise.”

Mural Society president Norm Knodt, who emceed the Veterans Day mural dedication, said they would like the World War II mural completed in two years in the hope that those who served during that conflict, who are now well in their 80s and 90s, will still be around for the dedication.

 The rest of the five-mural collection will honor the veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War and World War I. This mural project started with “EagleHearts” because Marinas already had the painting done and was ready for the installation, Wilson explained. Marinas painted the original version of the mural a few years ago for a friend who lost his son in Afghanistan. The artist said he was at a loss for words to comfort his friend, so he painted the picture of a group of eight soldiers huddled together in prayer in honor of the young fallen soldier.

The mural project was the brainchild of several veterans’ organizations, Wilson said.

“The American Legion and some other veterans groups – the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), the (U.S. Army) Warrant Officers Association, and some other groups – wanted to do a commemorative wall to thank our veterans of different war eras for their services in the past 100 years,” she explained.

Donations for the World War II mural may be dropped off at Raymus Homes: The Next Generation, 250 Cherry Lane, Suite 116, Manteca, CA 95336 or mailed to P.O. Box 2188, Manteca, CA 95336. Prospective donors may also call 823-1474 and Mural Society members can make arrangements to have the donations picked up at the donors’ convenience, Wilson said.