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Altoona native honored by American Legion with Medal of Merit

Courtesy photo Ricky Lee receives the American Legion Medal of Merit-Gold from Olson-Grinde American Legion Post Commander Bill Ridgely.

DEFOREST, Wis. — Returning to Wisconsin for another traditional country music concert, Altoona native Ricky Lee entertained a crowd of hundreds in Veterans Memorial Park on June 15.

Ricky Lee (Rick Lonsinger) is a 1985 graduate of Altoona Area High School.

What made this concert unique was after Lee performed his seventh song, he was interrupted by Olson-Grinde American Legion Post Service Officer Jeffrey Unger, who informed the audience that Ricky Lee had been nominated for and approved to receive an American Legion Medal of Merit-Gold for his outstanding achievements on behalf of military service members, veterans and their families across the country.

Unger read the official citation that accompanied the medal, and Olson-Grinde American Legion Post Commander Bill Ridgely pinned the medal upon Lee’s chest and presented him a copy of the citation and a certificate.

The citation reads, in part, “Ricky Lee has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements as a professional entertainer and citizen patriot while attending to the American military service member, veteran, family and caretaker for more than 10 years.

“Ricky Lee’s extraordinary contributions throughout this decade plus of performance in critical times, places and positions has directly influenced hundreds of thousands of combat and peace time military service members and veterans across the United States.

“A true patriot, his contagious enthusiasm, sound reasoning and cultural human sensitivity have proven invaluable to his entertainment value, healing power and musical success.

“Throughout his exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding patriotic services and achievements, Ricky Lee emulates Americanism, just as our Americanism Manual defines — it is not a word, it is a cause, a way of life — the very best way of life ever known. His keen sense of responsibility in the performance of his profession reflects great credit upon himself, America’s military service members, veterans and their families, and are in keeping with the highest esteem, ideals and traditions of The American Legion.”

Lee has been recognized by Veterans Service Organizations across the country and the Veterans Administration for his talent and gift of music and the impact it has upon Americans.

“Ricky gets it, he understands that the price of our freedom is not free. He also understands the power of healing through music, and he uses this to make a significant and positive difference in the lives of our military service members, veterans and their families,” said Ridgely.

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