Nominate the unsung heroes around you

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hang out at the Stewpot for a little while around lunch time and you’ll meet Yankee.

He’s an older gentlemen, graying beard, soft, yet gruff voice. He’s usually wearing a cap.

He’s not there to eat, but to work.

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Yankee joins veteran volunteer David Lewis every day to scoop, pour and handout meals to local residents in need.

He doesn’t work fast, but he gets the job done. And he’s one of the faces to know at the Stewpot.

He’ll talk to you about what he does there, why he does it and what he likes about it, but he stops short every time of revealing his real, full name — at least to newspaper reporters.

He doesn’t need the credit that comes with being in the newspaper, Yankee says.

Yankee encompasses the spirit of an unsung hero. But he’s not letting anyone sing about him anytime soon.

His buddy David, a long-time food scooping volunteer, was nominated last year as an Unsung Hero in The Democrat’s annual edition honoring local heros and the citizen of the year. Yankee wasn’t beside him, nor do I expect him to be this year. He’s deserving, but we’d need his full name.

No worries though, Yankee and David aren’t alone. We live in a community full of heroes, sung and unsung.

They do extra work at our churches, volunteer at our schools, are active in organizing community events and are the first to step up in a time of need.

Last year, many of our heroes came from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Others were nominated for their continued service in everything from Dixie Youth Baseball to the annual balloon race.

It’s time again to start recognizing the heroes that surround you.

From now until mid-February, we’ll be accepting nominations from the community. The person doing the nominating will remain anonymous, but your nominee won’t.

Send an e-mail to, name your hero and tell us a little about them. Include information about the person’s contributions to the community, their impact on the lives they touch and anything else you think should be sung to the world. If possible, send us a phone number where we can reach the person you’ve nominated.

We’ll do the rest.

Sometimes it gets a little hairy on our end though. The thing about these unsung heroes, usually, is their overwhelming humbleness.

Every year, our staff runs into a few folks who just won’t to come in and let us take their picture. Like Yankee, they like to be unsung.

First we try persuasion. Then we explain to them why we publish the section and their role in the publication. Then we beg.

If they still won’t come, we get creative.

Sometimes it takes a little trickery, and a little help from you guys.

In the past, we’ve called friends and had them transport the unsung hero to our office.

We’ve watched our heroes enter our office shaking their head “no” consistently the whole way.

We’ve hunted down photos already in print and used those.

But don’t worry. We’ll get that photo.

You nominate the heroes; we’ll sing about them.

And to those of you out there who’ll be receiving a phone call from our office in the coming months saying “You’ve been nominated as an Unsung Hero, when can we take your photo?” just cooperate! The credit is all yours and you deserve it, whether you like it or not.

Nominations can also be dropped by our office at 503 N. Canal St., or mailed to P.O. Box 1447, Natchez, MS 39121.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or