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Those 5,800 crosses represent the men who died for our freedom
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A contingent of new American citizens – Assyrians who fled the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to settle in Turlock – will be present for the three-day Memorial Day Weekend commemoration in Manteca at Woodward Park.

When they read about plans for the 5,800 white crosses to honor those who have died so far in the Global War on Terror, they contacted organizers and dropped by where the crosses were being painted in Riverbank. Almost instantaneously after seeing them, several Assyrians insisted that it wasn’t good enough. They asked – and were allowed – to repaint the crosses with even greater care.

To them it was a sacred task as, in their own words, “those crosses represent those who have died for our freedom.”

That is more than enough reason to set aside the usual Memorial Day weekend routine and make it a point to drop by Woodward Park on Saturday, May 29, and Sunday, May 30, to take part in the various activities that are detailed in a story on today’s front page.

You can also drop by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Memorial Day parade with the theme “The Price of Freedom” on Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca on Monday, May 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Roughly two dozen World War II veterans will serve as grand marshals while dozens upon dozens of other veterans will also be part of the procession along with other entries.

Prior to that at 10 a.m., traditional Memorial Day remembrances will take place at East Union Cemetery.

Memorial Day is a time to take pause and remember the fallen. The parade may not seem to fit into that mode but in a way it does. You can bet the men and women who are marching and riding will be reflecting heavily on comrades who didn’t make it home and died serving America in a distant land.

By the same token, those who will line the street will be doing so not simply to honor, respect and thank those veterans who are still alive but to also do the same for those who have fallen defending America.

Parade entries close Saturday. For more information contact the chamber at 823-6121.

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JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL McDONALD: The parole board is keeping cold blooded killer William Walter Nichols behind bars for at least another five years as they denied his parole request this week.

McDonald was convicted of murdering 1973 East Union High graduate Michael McDonald and acquaintance Susan Medrin.

Those who helped McDonald’s mother Doris Morgan by signing petitions and writing letters to the parole board helped with efforts to keep Nichols locked up so he can’t harm anyone else.

Altogether, there were 2,000 signatures collected and roughly 250 letters sent.

“I’m relieved,” Morgan said. “The only way I’d be happy is if I had my son back.”

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IMPORTANCE OF COURT APPOINTEES: Just how important are appellate and supreme court appointees?

Consider this: California is facing a $20 billion deficit but can’t simply trim back certain health care programs to help balance the budget such as home care for the disabled and health care for low-income kids.

That’s because the courts have said they must either maintain a minimum funding for those programs or else not offer them.

California - like a number of other cash-strapped states - is being forced into a corner by judicial edicts.

On this one you can blame Gov.  Arnold Schwarzenegger or the California Legislature all you want, but it is the courts that have taken away a reasonable alternative.

So instead of simply more cutbacks entire programs that are now on the chopping block.

Some may call the court’s edicts justice but others might regard it as judicial activism as it basically takes over the legislative branch of government as well as that of the executive branch by dictating government programs.

No one likes any of the cuts but they have to be made to keep the state solvent.

This actually falls into the “be-careful-what-you-ask-for” category as those who had  state-provided health care services that were reduced in the current budget sued for retention of full funding.

The ruling may have restored full funding temporarily but it makes it clear states have the option of dropping programs.