SAL National Vice Commander Michael Kirschner affectionately refers to his late wife, Yvonne, as a “Navy brat.”
“Growing up in a patriotic family, she always cared about the men and women that serve this great country of ours and the children of America,” Kirschner said.
Yvonne (Barela) Kirschner, a member of Ovie Vernon Auxiliary Unit 2 in Pueblo, Colo., died Jan. 8.
“When she passed away, the kids and I sat down and tried to think of the best way to honor her memory,” Kirschner said. “Being that she lived her life via the Auxiliary motto of ‘service over self,’ we felt it was appropriate to have folks give money in her honor to a great cause.”
After some discussion, the Kirschner family settled on the Veterans & Children Foundation (VCF) because of its emphasis on helping veterans and their children, as well as it being the top fundraising project of American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola and SAL National Commander Christopher Carlton.
Family and friends raised $3,000 in Yvonne’s honor for VCF, which Kirschner announced at the SAL National Executive Committee’s Spring Meetings.
But that wasn’t all.
“The vice commanders this year had challenge coins made, and we’ve been collecting donations from the challenge coins for the VCF,” NVC Ernie Laberge announced at the meetings. “And on behalf of the national vice commanders, and in memory of Yvonne Kirschner, the national vice commanders have collected so far $11,140.”
“I was totally shocked, honored and humbled when my fellow NVCs chose to make the donation from funds raised for our challenge coin in her name,” Kirschner said. “It truly made me tear up and feel the pride of serving with these great men.
“This is what the American Legion Family is truly about. Taking care of one another, our communities, our veterans, and the children of this nation. … If each one of the 2 million-plus American Legion Family members do something similar, what a huge impact we as an organization could make to our veterans, community and youth.”
Kirschner said his wife of 23 years would be “embarrassed” by the attention. But he hopes the example set by those contributing to honor her echoes throughout the Legion Family.
“(We) have always held on to the belief that we do what we do because we want to and it’s the right thing, not because we want recognition,” Kirschner said. “There is a great quote from Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Francis S. Currey: ‘There are two kinds of people in this world — those who get things done and those who take credit for getting things done. Belong to the first group, there is much less competition.’
“(Yvonne) lived life by that motto and should be an inspiration to us all.”