Each year it's an honor for the Southeast Missourian to recognize people who embody the spirit of America. Whether it's for patriotism and having served in the armed forces or for a number of other reasons, there are many in this part of the state who consistently display a giving and selfless attitude.
Over the last several weeks we encouraged you, our readers, to nominate local individuals for the Southeast Missourian's Spirit of America Award. This year we have nine nominees:
* Nancy Caldwell, nominated by Lisa Stewart. Caldwell's community efforts include her career in education. These days she volunteers at the elementary school in Scott City, helps with Meals on Wheels, and cuts coupons for the Over Sea Coupon program, among other efforts. Caldwell's education background represents those who invest in the next generation.
* Kenneth Haas, nominated by Notre Dame Regional High School. Haas, 90, is a Navy veteran. After being discharged with honor on Dec. 16, 1945, he was recognized with the Victory Medal, Good Conduct Award and Asiatic Pacific Award with four stars. He is involved with St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus Council 1111, Birthright and PT Boats Inc. Haas represents a lifetime of service and American heroism.
* Pete Poe, nominated by the Southeast Missouri District Fair Board. Poe has been a driving force for the fair for a number of years. He currently serves as the SEMO Fair Board president, a position he's held before. The fair board, in its nomination of Poe, called him a "natural leader." We agree that he represents the best in American leadership.
* Dorothy Lee Dolle Krueger Points, nominated by Frank Cruse. In her nomination Cruse said Points helps at the American Red Cross blood bank. She has been involved in Operation Troop Support, among other efforts. Points represents the many behind-the-scenes people who make a difference but do not always receive public recognition.
* Wayne Wallingford, nominated by Tom Wilmas. Wallingford's accomplishments are impressive. From his involvement in many community organizations to his distinguished service in the Air Force and in business, Wallingford has made a difference in everything he's done. Today he continues this life of service as the state representative for 158th District. Wallingford is an inspiration and represents those who serve America in multiple areas.
* Jim Watkins, nominated by the United Way of Southeast Missouri. He's a veteran, former educator and a community volunteer, having served with several organizations. His latest passion, according to the United Way, is emergency preparedness -- a noble cause considering the natural disasters that have hit our state over the last couple of years. Watkins represents Americans who are only a call away from support.
* Walt and Norma Wildman, nominated by Love INC. From Walt's military service to the couple's efforts in local community and religious organizations, the Wildmans, as described in the nomination form, have an unquestionable love for God and country. Many Americans have such a love, and their commitment embodies what we would hope all would show.
* Alice Wybert, nominated by Bernetta Davis. Wybert embodies the compassion that many in this country have for others. A registered nurse, Wybert has spent her life helping people, particularly those who are helpless or terminally ill. Outside of medicine, Wybert loves animals and has developed Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary. Wybert represents American compassion.
* Kent Zickfield, nominated by Old Town Cape. An eight-year member of the Missouri National Guard, Zickfield has a long history with Cape Girardeau. He operates a downtown jewelry business where as a leader he has been key in community revitalization. Zickfield has demonstrated his leadership and values in a number of community organizations and has volunteered thousands of hours to benefit others, often leading the way and never hesitating to roll up his sleeves. Zickfield represents America's visionaries, military service and small business that seeks to do good.
In Tuesday's Southeast Missourian we'll announce the recipient of this year's award. A special tab in Tuesday's paper will feature each nominee.
Wednesday evening at the Arena Park grandstand we'll formally recognize the recipient of this year's Spirit of America award, who has already been identified. The award will be presented at 6 p.m., immediately before the demolition derby. We hope you come out to the park as the USA Veterans once again sponsor what promises to be a great day of fun for all ages.
While only one winner is selected each year, many other nominees, both past and present, are deserving of recognition. We encourage individuals and groups to consider renominating individuals not previously selected next year.
We are overwhelmed with the quality of this year's nominees and thank each of them, as well as the many past nominees and award winners, for their service to our community and country.