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Showing respect for those who have served
Carl Stappenbeck points to a photo of him as part of the original VFW Honor Guard for Manteca Post 6311 and Ripon Post 1051. He is the only survivor in the photograph. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Rodney Sevedge has spent the last four years paying his respects to those who served their country the best way he knows how.

As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6311 Honor Guard – presiding over the funerals of veterans when requested by the family, and firing the timeless three-round volley also known as a 21-gun salute.

On Thursday night, Sevedge spoke openly about his experiences as a member of the VFW Honor Guard at the monthly program at the Manteca Historical Society – an event that was overwhelmingly attended by veterans themselves.

“I enjoy being a part of this because it’s honoring the deceased that have honored their country,” Sevedge said of why he continues to be a part of the organization. “It’s a way to pay respect to those who earned that respect by giving selflessly, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

With Veteran’s Day falling on Thursday, the stage inside of the Manteca Historical Museum was decorated with an extensive assortment of military uniforms spanning the generations – providing the perfect backdrop for the war veterans that spoke before the crowd and told the stories of how they became involved with a unit whose sole existence is to honor those who sacrificed part of themselves for their country.

And he wasn’t alone.

American Legion Post 251 Bugler Rodney McCleary Sr. got a little bit choked up when talking about the experiences he had performing at funerals throughout Northern California. He uses a unique bugle that automatically plays a perfect form of taps while he does his best impression of a bugler to make the entire presentation that much more authentic.

“To see something like that – it’s just unbelievable,” McCleary said of a funeral that is presided over by an Honor Guard. “People don’t realize the emotion that goes into something like that.

“I enjoy being a part of it – I don’t enjoy the fact that it’s a funeral, but it’s an emotional time and it’s an honor to be included in something like that.”

To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3544.