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Pentti Heinonen, a war veteran of the Continuation War, is thankful for the peacetime and for the respect for war veterans. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Filming and editing: Tony Öhberg

War veteran Pentti Heinonen, 92, said that the society of Finland was in good shape already in 1939. “We had a good country, worthy of defending!” he said in his speech during the National Veterans’ Day at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on Friday afternoon.

Then began the Winter War, on November 30.

Heinonen himself served in the Continuation War that began 15 months after the Winter War ended in 1940.

Heinonen served in the air defense regiment of Helsinki. He was only 18 when he was drafted and was sent to recharge a heavy counter-air defense system against hostile Soviet bombers.

“It was a terrible experience. But we saved our Independence.”

It was heart-warming to see the room full of veterans and former members of Lotta Svärd organization, women who served voluntarily in the wars,  and widows still grieving.

The National Veterans’ Day has been celebrated since 1987.

The day is not for celebrating victory, but for reminiscing the sacrifices and for appreciating the peacetime that has lasted for 73 years.

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