Flags are flying in Finland to mark Veteran’s Day – which this year also commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of the Lapland War.
On this day in 1945 the last German forces crossed the border at Enontekiö into German-occupied Norway, and Finnish troops were able to hoist a flag on the Three Country Cairn, the stone marker which shows the spot where Finland, Norway and Sweden meet.
This year due to the coronavirus crisis, it has not been possible to organise any events to mark the date, something which President Sauli Niinistö noted in his message to Finland’s veterans.
“You who are veterans of our wars have lived in times when there was no room for selfishness. On the front as well as the home front, the senses were weighed down by the responsibility for the home country and those close to it. We passed the final trial” says Niinistö.
“During the current pandemic, we feel gratitude and respect for many of the heroes of the crisis. Among other things, the employees in health care, safety, transport and trade work to ensure our health and keep society up and running. So do many others” he adds.
Virtual choir sings Finlandia
In the absence of any larger official parades or ceremonies to mark this year’s Veteran’s Day and the anniversary of end of the Lapland War, the Office of the Prime Minister commissioned a virtual choir to perform the Sibelius hymn Finlandia.
With just a week to prepare, some 1,075 singers took part in the online performance, which was lead by Arto Joutsimäki, the conductor of the Karelia Choir.
The singers are members of a 7,000-strong Facebook group for virtual singing, which seems to have become a popular pastime during the coronavirus restrictions.
The group’s leader Miika Granholm works with the Aventur Show Choir, and was approached by the PM’s office to see if his virtual ensemble would be able to pull together a Veteran’s Day performance within a matter of days.
The choristers – all wearing blue and white – recorded their individual parts just in time for the video to be released on Monday.
Watch the virtual choir singing Sibelius’ Finlandia: