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Penny and Lee Anderson were recognized four times over by the Nisswa American Legion for their contributions to veterans nationally, and to the legion locally. Here, former commander Jim Starke honors them with plaques. Photo by Travis Grimler.

Andersons recognized for service to veterans

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Nisswa residents Lee and Penny Anderson were recognized by Nisswa American Legion Post 627 for significant contributions to veterans locally and nationally.

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Lee, a veteran and graduate of West Point, was recently awarded the "Distinguished Graduate Award" from West Point in honor of his contributions to veterans. Former Legion Commander Jim Starkey decided it was time for the Andersons to be recognized locally as well.

"It did bother me that while he was getting recognition all over the country, but he isn't getting it in Nisswa. This is where he should be getting it for all he's done for our local area and also we at the post had done nothing to show our appreciation for what he had done for veterans. We are here today to correct that oversight," Starkey said at a recognition dinner Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Legion.

Anderson and his wife are recognized for national contributions and establishment of services for veterans, including donation of seed money and three years of funding for the American Chamber of Commerce's Hire Our Heroes Program, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce initiative to hire veterans and the Lee and Penny Anderson Defender's Lodge in Palo Alto, California, where veterans can stay for free while receiving treatment for various service-related issues at a nationally acclaimed VA hospital.

Furthermore, the Andersons have property adjacent to the American Legion property, and have always been accommodating when Legion activities cross the border between the two properties.

Starkey said Anderson's contributions showed his dedication to the four pillars of the American Legion, and for that, he deserved recognition and an honorary lifetime membership to the American Legion along with a plaque.

"Lee and Penny Anderson have espoused these principles. I can think of no people more qualified to receive an honorary life membership in the American Legion than Lee Anderson. Penny also deserves this recognition, but I'm recently told that due to previous commitments she cannot leave for two years for military service. She is going to have to share yours, Lee," Starkey said.

Anderson was also gifted with an American Legion hat with lapel pin, and three more plaques, including a certificate of appreciation for Lee and Penny Anderson, a plaque of recognition from former U.S. Army Staff Sgt. and Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Romesha and a letter of recognition from the director of the American Legion in Minnesota.

Anderson has been a resident of Nisswa since 1942. He is known for his collection of antique wooden boats. Anderson gave a speech in thanks for his recognition.

"Thank you so very much. This means more to me than you possibly could imagine. One of the proudest honors I've had in my life is to be a veteran. I know you all feel the same way. It's a special paternity sorority and it means a lot to us. It truly does. To be in service to this country is the greatest thing you can do," Anderson said.

Anderson was presented with these awards during an early bird dinner for Nisswa American Legion members who have already paid their 2015 dues. The Legion has given recognition for philanthropy in the past, but not to this extent, said current Commander Mike Parker.

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