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War veteran leads guests to President's reception

War veteran, counsellor of education Antti Henttonen, 89, was the first to shake hands with the presidential couple at this year’s Independence Day reception. Henttonen was only 17 when he volunteered to fight in the Winter War. These days Henttonen is a volunteer in the war veterans' association.

Antti Henttonen kättelee Tarja Halosta.
Opetusneuvos Antti Henttonen oli ensimmäisenä kättelyvuorossa. Image: YLE

President Tarja Halonen and her husband, Doctor Pentti Arajärvi, hosted the reception at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, celebrating 94 years of Finnish independence. After 12 years in office, this was Halonen’s last Independence Day Reception.

The background music during the hand-shaking ceremony was provided by the Guard’s Band- Osmo Ikonen was the evening’s vocal soloist.

The smaller Yellow Saloon on the third floor of the palace filled with the sounds of jazz , performed by the Jukka Perko Streamline Jazztet, led by saxophonist Jukka Perko.

Independence Day reception for the poor

Another Independence Day reception took place on Helsinki's Hakaniemi square, where a reception for the poor was once again organised by the Christian charity group Veikko ja Lahja Hurstin Laupeudentyö.

Airi Ylimikkotervo was one of those who availed of the soup on offer.

“It remains to be seen how the poor will be helped,” Ylimikkotervo said of his reasons for attending the event.

For Kari Hakkarainen, the Independence Day reception for the poor had become an annual tradition.

“The event carries a real, genuine Christian message. Here you can delve deeper into values related to caring for those near," Hakkarainen commented.

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