Spirit of America

The Southeast Missourian has presented its Spirit of America Award at the Fourth of July Libertyfest celebration in Cape Girardeau each year since 2003. The award honors an individual who exemplifies the character and ideals of this country we love.

The original Spirit of America Award winner was John "Doc" Yallaly, honored for his 40 years as manager of the Cape Girardeau American Legion baseball team and his volunteer work for the Missouri Veterans Home and VIP Industries.

Next came Dr. Dan Cotner, a Cape Girardeau dentist whose trombone and keyboard playing have been heard in the volunteer orchestras of local high school musicals and the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band since the 1950s. Cotner has provided free dental care to the needy on 17 Rotary International and religious missions abroad.

Melvin Gateley, the 2005 winner of the award, is a former teacher, school administrator and Cape Girardeau city councilman who has been involved with Vision 2000 and Vision 2020 and with United Way campaigns and many other organizations.

These recipients set high standards for the 2006 nominees.

Any organization -- civic clubs, church groups, veterans organizations, Scout troops, sports leagues, school groups, auxiliaries and others -- can nominate someone for the award. The organization that nominates the winner will receive $1,000 to be used for its good works.

Nomination forms will be published periodically in the Southeast Missourian and should be sent to: Southeast Missourian, c/o managing editor Sam Blackwell, P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63702. They also can be e-mailed to sblackwell@semissourian.com. June 17 is the deadline for receiving nominations.