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Flags fly for Finland’s fallen

Finland has commemorated its fallen wartime heroes since 1940. On Sunday the occasion was observed in a formal ceremony in which the president laid a wreath at the Heroes' Cross in Helsinki.

Suomen lippu liehuu.
Image: Yle / Petri Aaltonen

Finns remembered their fallen soldiers on Fallen Soldiers Day in a wreath laying ceremony in Helsinki’s Hietaniemi cemetery Sunday.

In accordance with Finnish tradition, President Sauli Niinistö laid a wreath at the Heroes' Cross in the cemetery to commemorate the lives of servicemen who died during the Winter War (1939 - 40) and the Finnish Civil War (Jan - May 1918).

The commemoration is observed on the third Sunday in May, and was seeded in 1940 when the idea was raised at a bishop’s conference.

Then-wartime commander Carl Gustaf Mannerheim however ordered that in addition to remembering the fallen heroes of the recently concluded Winter War, the occasion should also honour “all who sacrificed their lives on both sides for stability during the maturing period in 1918”, according to the Oak Leaf Tradition Society.

Later, soldiers who perished in the Continuation War (vs Soviet Union 1941 - 45) and the Lapland War (vs Nazi Germany 1944 - 45) were also included in the commemorations.

Fallen Soldiers Commemoration Day got its name in 1946, and has been observed as a flag day since 1977.

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