The side of the historic Oddfellows building in the heart of downtown Manteca for years listed the names of the 954 Manteca area residents who served in World War II.
It was so those who passed through town on the old routes for Highways 99 and 120 — modern-day Main Street and Yosemite Avenue — knew of those from Manteca who served their country including 34 who did not return.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the first of five murals designed to honor those who have served will grace the same wall.
The initial mural dubbed “Eagle Hearts” depicts eight soldiers from the War on Terror era gathered together in a prayer circle.
Altogether five 16- by 20-foot murals will be placed on the wall of the two-story Bedquarters building’s eastern exposure.
The effort is being spearheaded by the Manteca Mural Society.
“The focus is going to be on those who served and not the military,” noted Tom Wilson of the mural society.
Jessie Marinas of Manteca is already well on his way to completing the first mural. It is being done on material similar to the Yosemite mural in front of the American Legion Hall in the 200 block of East Yosemite and the San Francisco mural on the side of a second story wall in the 200 block of West Yosemite. It will then be placed on panels. That way it allows for the murals to be relocated if necessary in the future.
The society needs to raise funds to complete the remaining four murals.
Manteca has a rich tradition of people stepping forward to serve their country. The community as a whole has had its share of sacrifices. During the Vietnam War 17 Manteca area men died in combat. It was also the same war that French Camp native and former Manteca High student Sammy Davis served in where his heroic actions led to his receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor.
The parking lot below where the murals will be placed is where the formation of the mural society was announced on June 1, 2002.
Eleven years later, the society has completed 18 murals in Manteca’s central district.
For information on the mural society, to become a member, or to make a donation go to www.mantecamurals.com or call 823-7229.