New York American Legion commander honors North Tonawanda-area vetby jmaloni
Brings message of 'service first' to Niagara County legion family
New York State American Legion Commander Kenneth Governor brought a message of "service first" to the legion family in Niagara County Saturday, and honored a North Tonawanda-area Legionnaire.
During dinner at LaSalle American Legion Post 1142 in Niagara Falls, Governor presented the Department Commander's Award of Excellence to Robert Sondel, a 46-year member of Sikora American Legion Post 1322 in North Tonawanda. He cited his "dedication to our men and women in uniform, our veterans, their families and your community." He praised his leadership as past 8th District commander, current 8th District adjutant and judge advocate, and as chairman of numerous Niagara County legion committees. For his post, Sondel serves as steward and volunteer manager.
"Service first" is about reinvigorating the core mission to serve men and women in uniform, veterans and families, community and nation, Governor told members of the legion, auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.
A sign the New York department is on the right track in putting "service first," Governor noted, is the Americanism trophy 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," he said.
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.
The commander's visit was a joint visitation with New York Auxiliary President Barbara Corker and New York Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander John Chang. The trio visited North Tonawanda for lunch at Sikora Post 1322 and then toured the area before speaking at the dinner held in their honor.
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.
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," she said.