Gordon F. Sander ’72 received Finland’s Order of the Lion in a ceremony Oct. 12 at the Finnish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. The medal of the Knight of the Order of the Lion, bestowed by Sauli Niinistö, president of the Republic of Finland, was presented to Sander by the Finnish embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Antti Vänskä.
“It’s a great honor, and rare for an American,” said Sander, a journalist, historian and photographer who first visited the country in 1977 and has written extensively about Finland in nearly 100 articles, two books and a third in progress. “They’re simply recognizing my services to Finland and promoting international understanding, by bringing the world’s attention to Finnish culture and history, as well as how beautiful the country is. When I first started writing about Finland in 1990, it was off the map.”
His books include “Serling” and “The Frank Family That Survived” for Cornell University Press; and “The Hundred Day Winter War: Finland’s Gallant Stand Against the Soviet Army” (2013), which has been translated into four languages. The original 2010 Finnish edition, “Taistelu Suomesta,” was a No. 2 bestseller in Finland for six months. He is writing a biography of Urho Kekkonen, Finland’s longest-serving president (1956-1982) and former prime minister.
Sander is The Christian Science Monitor’s Nordic/Baltic correspondent and has written for more than 20 publications including The New York Times, Financial Times of London, the International Herald Tribune and Politico. A former artist-in-residence at Risley College, his photography exhibitions include several at Cornell since 1972 and a solo show at Helsinki’s Municipal Art Hall in 1998.
– Daniel Aloi