Military Chaplain Markus Tukiainen’s message is clear: he prays for peace to prevail. “There are not many war veterans left,” he says to a crowd of tourists, elderly people, police and military personnel in Helsinki on April 27, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Military Chaplain Markus Korpela reminded the observers at the Marshal Mannerheim’s statue in Helsinki center of the declining number of war veterans.
At the beginning of 2019, there were about 10,000 war veterans alive. Of them, 1,500 are war invalids. The average age of veterans is 94. Finland has officially celebrated National Veterans’ Day since 1987 to honor the end of the Lapland War on April 27, 1945—74 years ago.
Local celebrations like the one at Mannerheim’s statue were arranged across the country. The unifying, national theme was “It’s time to remember.”
This year over 3,107 veterans will receive the First Class Medal of The White Rose of Finland. The medal is given to those veterans who have not yet received a governmental recognition.
On Saturday noon at the Equestrian statue of Marshal Mannerheim in Helsinki center, a wreath was laid by the representatives of the city at the base of the granite podium of over six meters tall, and on top of the podium, Mannerheim—sculpted by Antero Tukiainen and erected in 1960—sat tall and proud on his horse that according to historians was his favorite, Käthy. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Marshal Mannerheim is remembered in Finland as a respected military leader and considered a key figure in preserving Finland’s independence from Russia. Mannerheim is also remembered as a president of his word between 1944-46, by separating Finland from the World War II and by deporting the Germans from Northern Finland during the Lapland War in 1944-45.