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These are bad times? Those who lived thru World War II would say we never had it so good
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Gas is pushing $4 a gallon again.

Unemployment is still just a tad over 13 percent in Manteca.

The state is getting ready to cutback even more on services we’ve come to expect.

College tuition is going up every six months.

Home prices are down by over 50 percent.

We call these problems.

And most of us bellyache about them.

But I bet there are a lot of people who would have loved to have had a chance to be so miserable. People like Fred Hesser. He didn’t get much of a chance to complain about how things are. He died in World War II.

Men like Serophine Medeiros – if they had the opportunity to trade places with any of us today – would probably be thinking these are great times. Medeiros was among the 416,837 Americans killed in the battlegrounds of Europe, in North Africa and the Pacific Theatre fighting the Axis Powers.

Some 70 years ago – barely a move in the needle of civilization – 60 million people died during World War II. That death toll represented 2.5 percent of the world’s population. The odds if anyone of them were able to come back to earth for a day they’d think our problems are trite at best.

The freedoms we have today were secured by the blood and lives of men like Kenneth Grisham.

William Winchester didn’t live long enough to see the end of World War II. But his death – and those of his comrades in arms – made the great economic and standards of living advances after that dark era possible. Steve Jobs may have brought the world the iPad and iPhone. But it was men like John R.  Machado who gave their lives that made it possible for Jobs to have the freedom to do so.

A hefty price was paid by Manuel Pimentel and 35 other Manteca young men not too long ago. Their colleagues who served and returned home understand all too well why this nation today enjoys the bounty, freedoms, and security that we do.

The names of Manteca’s fallen from World War II are on a plaque near the front entrance of the Manteca Library. It’s an appropriate place considering the freedom and opportunity that reading and education affords people.

Unfortunately, not many are aware of the plaque or the fact 36 men from Manteca gave their lives in a war that ultimately opened the floodgates of the freedom across the globe. No doubt there are still many struggling to obtain simple basic freedoms. Others are trying to simply survive and keep themselves and their families fed, clothed and healthy.

But the lot of the world is substantially better today because of the sacrifices of men like Clifford White.

American Legion Post 249 believes the time is long overdue to make sure that those who have benefited from those from Manteca that didn’t return and those that did appreciate the sacrifices made on their behalf of generations yet to come.

They are planning the creation of moveable memorial panels listing the 957 Mantecans who served in World War II so they will not be forgotten. It will cost $3,000 to create the honor roll.

There are two ways you can help.

The Legion is planning a tri-tip and chicken dinner on Monday, Feb. 20, at the Manteca Senior Center. No-host cocktails are at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. Ticket are $15 apiece. They are available from Rocky Wilson, 823-5665; Penny Winston, 470-8691, or at the Manteca Historical society.

If you wish to make a donation to the Honor Roll Fund to help offset the cost of the panels, you may send checks to American Legion Post 249, P.O. Box 249, Manteca, and CA. 95336.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.