Fourth of July events reflect American spirit

Sunday, July 6, 2014
Mary Kasten accepts the Spirit of America award from Lucas Presson, left, Friday, July 4, 2014, in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

It was a patriotic occasion as former Missouri state Rep. Mary Kasten received the 2014 Spirit of America award at a Friday ceremony in Cape Girardeau amid a slew of festivities in Southeast Missouri commemorating the Fourth of July holiday.

"I'm just exceedingly grateful" to receive the award, Kasten said. "I receive this for all those who have served. All of us receive this award."

Past recipients include John "Doc" Yallaly, Dr. Dan Cotner, Melvin Gateley, Neal Edwards, James Harnes Sr., Jane Randol Jackson, Harry Rediger, Rob Callahan, David Hitt, Kent Zickfield and Ken Bender.

"Mary Kasten is indeed a patriot," said Lucas Presson, assistant managing editor of the Southeast Missourian. Kasten is "a community, state and national gem," he added.

Presson said Kasten is or has been involved in a number of organizations, including the Community Caring Council, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, the Cape Girardeau School Board and the Cape Girardeau Teen Challenge International chapter, where "she was a catalyst."

In her remarks after accepting the award, Kasten addressed the topic of the nation's founders and the role of God in the United States.

"We remember those people that are responsible for the republic we enjoy," Kasten said. "They were brave so we could have our own country. We need to restore that confidence."

Kasten, in addition to previous award recipients, is someone who represents the spirit of America, Presson said. They "quietly go about their business" without actively seeking public recognition, he added.

In contrast to previous years, the event was held near the steps of the Common Pleas Courthouse. The event included a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m.

"We were convinced it was time to move it to this location," Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger said. "We have a lot of great things going on in downtown Cape Girardeau."

The Jerry Ford Patriotic Band played songs at the event, including "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Marines' Hymn" and "The Army Goes Rolling Along." The band also played a medley for all the branches of the U.S. armed services, during which those who had served were invited to stand.

The nation's colors were presented by Marines from the Cpl. Mason O. Yarbrough Detachment No. 1081 led by Sgt. Paul Bedell. Cape Girardeau County Public Administrator Lisa Reitzel sang the "Star Spangled Banner," and Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder led the Pledge of Allegiance.

After the presentation, Kasten also was presented with awards from Kinder, state Sen. Wayne Wallingford, Josh Haynes, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jason Smith; and a proclamation from state Rep. Kathy Swan.

Other nominees for the 2014 award were Jess Bolen, Nancy Caldwell, Eva Dunn, Tom Higgins, Dr. John K. Holcomb, Billy Humphries, Deloris Meyr, Viney Mosley, Glenneta Vogelsang, Dennis Vollink, Dr. Charles Wiles and Shirley Young.

Jackson and the Fourth

In nearby Jackson, a car show and mud volleyball tournament were among events held Friday at the Fourth of July celebration in Jackson City Park.

The Capaha Antique Car Club hosted its annual car show there. Pat Patterson, president of the CACC, said about 300 cars participated, with about 200 judged for prizes.

"This is a record," Patterson said. He noted this year's show had more antiques and street rods than in previous years.

The car show is judged on a point system, with a car's engine, trunk, top, interior, undercarriage, paint and body as the criteria, Patterson said. The top 50 cars, top 10 motorcycles and top 30 trucks in the show would receive trophies, Patterson said early in the day.

Benny King of Jackson said he has "worked on cars my whole life" and has been in the automotive business for 42 years.

He displayed a 1958 black Chevrolet Corvette he said he bought from a college professor in 1984.

"I love it," King said. "My daughter will inherit it someday."

Also, a mud volleyball tournament also was organized inside the park. Tim Stearns of Jackson said he has played in the tournament for the past few years -- and it's a blast.

"I look forward to this all year," Stearns said.

In the double-elimination event, a team of six must win by at least two points. The playing surface was "as slick as snot," making it difficult to move, Stearns said.

Rachel Lorenz of Jackson, who played in the tournament for the first time, said trying to move in the mud wasn't easy.

"If [the ball] hits the hay bale, it counts as in," Lorenz said. The ball "just blows mud in your face whenever you hit it."

In such conditions, the primary strategy is just to get the ball over the net, Stearnes said.

A star-spangled Oran

The Oran Knights of Columbus chapter held its annual Fourth of July picnic Friday at the Knights of Columbus Hall grounds in Oran, Missouri.

Lanell Lange, in charge of the kitchen inside the KC hall, estimated up to 1,900 people would eat chicken, roast beef, dressings and all the trimmings inside or by carryout order throughout the day.

"It's a big event for the community and the Knights," Lange said.

Brandy Schaefer of Chaffee, Missouri, said she usually attends the picnic every year.

"It's family-friendly and close to home for us," Schaefer said.

Picnic-goers also ate outside at a hamburger stand. Rick Eftink, chairman of the stand, said it usually sells about 1,700 burgers and 700 corn dogs during the event each year.

"It gets pretty busy in the afternoon," said Harvey McVay, a member of the Oran KC chapter. The amount of food sold and attendance at the picnic can vary depending on the weather, he said.

Among the events at the picnic was the annual horseshoe tournament. Mike Kluesner, a member of the Oran KC chapter who runs the tournament, expected more than 25 teams.

"We had 29 teams last year," Kluesner said. "We like to have a lot of people come out and play."

Pertinent addresses: Spanish Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo.; 800 Stoneyledge Drive, Jackson, Mo.; 8681 State Highway 77, Oran, Mo.

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