Evelyn Glasscock, right, tells veteran Dennis Dayhoff thank you for his service in the United States Armed Forces during a appreciation ceremony for veterans Wednesday at the Retirement Ranch in Clovis. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
For about five minutes, all eyes were on Lester Teakell, an energetic and humorous sort who is not afraid to tell friends they need to shave or watch their weight.
When the group of about 10 people weren’t laughing at Teakell’s light-hearted jokes Wednesday, they were honoring the Army veteran for his service to country.
And like eight other military veterans honored at the Retirement Ranch, Teakell was all smiles when two Yucca Junior High School cheerleaders presented him with a red-white-and-blue ribbon, a pin and a miniature American Flag the day before Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those who served their country in the military service.
Confined to a wheel chair, Teakell said he appreciates it when youngsters recognize his service of country.
“This is the first time I’ve ever gotten one of these (little flags),” he said. “This means a lot …”
It’s important for youngsters to recognize veterans, said Jim Cowman, a representative of VFW Post 3015 who put on the ceremony. Each year he said he invites a different group to participate, and this year it was the cheerleaders’ turn.
Cowman remembers the day a student at Clovis High School stood up and asked a visiting group of veterans what young people could do to show appreciation for veterans.
“Young people don’t know what to say and how to approach veterans … but we’re happy with a hand shake and a ‘thank you,’” said Cowman, a former Marine who served in Vietnam.
Cowman said when he was young he remembers the World War II veterans as productive members of society, men who were full of life and community leaders.
They were the Little League coaches, Cub Scout leaders and parade organizers of his time. Many of the youngsters then, including himself, didn’t know their accomplishments overseas, which was sad, he said.
“I think it is so important that we have young people involved in any veterans ceremony,” he said. “They hardly know much about World War II and very little about World War I. And if we as veterans don’t get them involved in simple little ceremonies like this they’ll never realize (their impact).”
The cheerleaders on hand Wednesday said they learned about veterans, and while they were giving out ribbons, they were the ones who felt honored.
“It was just a really great experience, because we got to see … how they helped us even though we weren’t here at the time,” said cheerleader Ashley Southard, a ninth-grader at Yucca.
Southard and Yucca eighth-grader Chelsea Dant also gave a ribbon and flag to Shirlee Wolff, who formerly served in the Air Force and Army.
“I think this is pretty nice,” a bed-ridden Wolff said.
Wolff said she served in the Air Force for three years, some of that time she spent in Germany.
She said she was marching in a parade in Des Moines, Iowa, when the event was canceled because President
Franklin D. Roosevelt had just died.
When she was in Germany, she said she was shot at a few times, too. Even so, the military suits her just fine.
“I’m a great believer in the veterans,” she said.