Man honored for 70 years in legion
CEYLON– Lyle Anderson was recognized Thursday by the American National Legion for 70 years of continuous membership. Anderson, 91, has been a member of the Nassen-Detert American Legion Post 529- Ceylon since 1953.
Anderson, a native of Martin County, served in the Korean War from 1951-52 and upon returning home, joined the legion after a neighbor urged him to do so.
“Back then it was just what you did,” Anderson said.
At that time, Anderson estimates that the local legion had about 140 members. That number has dwindled over time and now in the last year there are just about 40 members.
In fact, while meetings are held monthly, there’s not enough membership coming to the meetings and the local post is disbanding as a result. Legion Commander, Allen Kahler, said that it will happen as soon as they can find other places for the members to go.
Kahler said most members are going to Welcome, some to Sherburn and some to Fairmont and a few are even going to posts in Mankato.
“We’ve got the numbers, but they’re all over the country. They started here and don’t want to give up their membership but can’t come back for meetings,” Kahler explained.
Changes in membership is something that Anderson noted has changed across his seven decades with the post.
“When I first joined the legion we’d probably have 70 or 80 at the meetings. At that time we had a lot of World War One vets,” Anderson said.
He said over his years they were all very fortunate that there were enough people to come forward and aid with military funerals.
Now, Anderson said, “There are so many other veteran organizations that I think the guys got kind of a little thin.”
He also belongs to the Korean War Veterans Association and noted that there’s also organizations for Vietnam veterans, Purple Hearts and disabled veterans, among other groups.
Anderson served as commander for two terms, in 1954-65 and 1993-94. He was also adjutant for 10 years. Most recently, for the past 14 years, Anderson has been serving as chaplain. He opens and closes each meeting and says a prayer at military funerals.
“He’s been a very active member,” said Kahler.
On Thursday morning a number of Post 529 legion members, along with auxiliary members and sons of legion members, met for coffee and pastries at Lake Belt Bar and Grill for camaraderie and to acknowledge Anderson’s achievement. Kahler also presented him with a certificate from the American National Legion.