An American Legion post and two Legionnaires received the Department Commander's Award of Excellence when New York State Legion Family leaders made a visitation swing through Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties Thursday to Sunday, Feb. 13-16.
It was a joint visitation with Department Commander Kenneth Governor, New York Auxiliary President Barbara Corker and New York Sons of the American Legion (SAL) Detachment Commander John Chang.
During dinner at Breezy Hill Party House in Warsaw Feb. 13, Governor presented the award to Hugh-Lynch American Legion Post 737. He praised Hugh-Lynch Post's adopt-a-platoon program, participation in Arcade Winter Fest and other community events, and support of the Armed Forces Day Wounded Warriors Motorcycle Run.
During dinner at Dunkirk Memorial Post 62 in Dunkirk Feb. 14, Governor honored James Hayward of Cassadaga Memorial Post 1280. He cited his service as commander of both his post and Chautauqua County American Legion, plus numerous other roles in the post and county. He also hailed Hayward's "passionate involvement in Scouting, Veterans Affairs, homeless veterans and Americanism." Earlier in the day the leaders visited Fredonia to have lunch at Fredonia Memorial Post 59 and toured the area before speaking at the dinner in their honor in Dunkirk.
During dinner at Norton-Chambers Post 1434 in Hinsdale Feb. 15, Governor presented the Department Commander's Award of Excellence to Steve Stimson, a member of Norton-Chambers Post. He praised his service as commander of both his post and Cattaraugus County American Legion, plus numerous other roles in community, including serving as president of the Joint Veterans Van Service. Earlier in the day, the three leaders visited Allegany to have lunch at Charles Harbel American Legion Post 892 and toured St. Bonaventure University before speaking at the dinner in their honor in Hinsdale.
The trio ended their weekend swing with an afternoon dinner at Morrison Hayes Post 702 in Wellsville, Allegany County.
Governor brought a message of "Service First." It's about reinvigorating the core mission to serve men and women in uniform, veterans and families, community and nation, he told members of the Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.
A sign that the Department of New York is on the right track in putting "service first," Governor noted, is the Americanism trophy that New York walked away with at the Legion's national convention last summer. "We were honored for having the best Children and Youth, and Family Assistance Programs in the entire American Legion."
Governor also said New York leads the nation in donations to the Legion's National Emergency Fund, which aids Legion Family members in disaster-struck areas.
SAL Detachment Commander John Chang noted that, like the department commander, his personal project this year is to collect donations for the National Emergency Fund, especially since the fund helped so many New York families in the devastating wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Auxiliary Department President Corker said her project is to support the American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors, and for two reasons. First, unlike other charities, 100 percent of donations go directly to helping wounded warriors. Second, it's important to "show our warriors our love."