Colonel Pat Cunningham spent the last 25 years of his life working to make the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park into what it is today.
During the park's annual Veteran Tribute Awards Ceremony, the Colonel was the sole recipient of the Veteran Tribute Award, which is given to honor those who've shown outstanding dedication to veterans affairs.
Don Alessi, the park's Chairman of the Board, says the park that thousands of people now enjoy each year would not be what it is without the Colonel's dedication.
"Quite frankly, it is because of him that the park is in the position it is today," Alessi said. "We owe it to Colonel Cunningham for the work he did for 25 years."
The Colonel's family was in attendance for the ceremony, including his younger brother Bishop Robert Cunningham, who is the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Bishop Cunningham offered the day's invocation, and took pride in all of his older brother's achievements.
"Colonel Cunningham was a man of peace," Bishop Cunningham said. "He was dedicated to his country - he loved his country and he supported his country. He was always happy as a member of the armed forces."
A large memorabilia case was unveiled to honor the Veteran Tribute Award winner. The tall glass enclosure included a portrait of the Colonel, dress blues, his Bronze Star Medal, and different pictures and archives from his service. That memorabilia will remain on display at the Naval Park for all to see.