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Finland honours war veterans

The average age of the remaining 9,800 or so veterans living in Finland is 94.

Tasavallan Presidentti Sauli Niinistö tervehtii veteraaneja Kansallisen veteraanipäivän juhlassa Kuopiossa 2019
President Niinistö shakes hands with the veterans in attendance. Image: Antti Karhunen / Yle

Finland celebrated the national holiday of Veterans Day on Saturday, and an official event to commemorate the day was arranged in the central city of Kuopio. Over 100 war veterans and women volunteers who served in Finland's wars were in attendance.

Gratitude was the underlying sentiment in the event's speeches.

"Although your numbers are growing fewer, the sacrifices you made will never be forgotten," Jukka Juusti, permanent secretary of the defence ministry, told the crowd.

To mark the occasion, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö granted the remaining veterans who had not yet received medals the First Class Medal of the Finnish White Rose, the highest honour in the land. More than 20 war veterans attended the ceremony in Kuopio and received the medals personally.

Lapinlahtelainen veteraani Martti Miettinen.
Martti Miettinen was one of the war veterans honoured on Saturday. Image: Antti Karhunen / Yle

Martti Miettinen from the North Savo municipality of Lapinlahti was emotional about the recognition, saying that it was soldiers older than him that really deserved admiration.

"Those men that fought in the Winter War, they were more worthy of these medals," he said.

President Niinistö said in his address that Veterans Day is an important time to remember those that fought in past wars and think of the sacrifices they have made.

"There are many suitable ways to honour this day. The most important thing is that we do not forget," he said.

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