Today on 6th of December, Finland quiets down to honour its independence day. Finland gained its independence in 1917, after being under the rule of both Sweden and Russia before that. Today we quiet down and ligth candles on the graves of those who fell in the Wars and gave their lives to defend our country, when our nation's independence was under the threat. We also light two blue-white candles in front of a window.
We cannot light a candle on his grave
This is a picture of my husband's uncle Akseli, who is wearing the winter overalls of the Finnish Army. He was born in Valkjärvi, which is located at the Karelian Isthmus. He fell at the age of 19 in the WWII on February 21st 1942 during the Continuation War. This is the last photo of him.
Akseli was the youngest son in his family. During the Winter War his family was evacuated to Loimaa in Southern Finland, and his older brothers were already fighting for their country. He didn't want to stay with his parents and sisters just doing nothing so he joined the Army as a volunteer in 1941. When he was 18 years old he attended the Continuation War. The rest of the family returned to Valkjärvi in 1942 and started to build a new house, because they had to burn down their old house so that the Soviet troops would not be able to use it as a shelter.
Akseli ( Aki ) on the left.
"Back from the holiday and enjoining the presents.
To Kairi, December 24th, 1941
Kairi was Aki's sister and my husband's mother.
Akseli was young, cheerful, and fearless. The rule in the war was to use the trenches between the units, but Akseli and his friend decided to run quicker over the frozen lake of Lempaala. It was a bad decision.
Akseli's mother, father, and brother
Akseli's funeral service was held at Valkjärvi Cemetery in June 1942 among others who had fallen in the war. Hundreds of Army and village people took part in the service, because the number of the fallen was really high. At that time the population of Valkjärvi was 7760, and the total number of casualties was 254.
September 9th 1944, the family was evacuated again and they had to leave the new house, Akseli's grave, and everything behind. This time they where evacuated to Padasjoki, Southern Tavastland.
When the war ended, Valkjärvi was joined to Russia and it's the former inhabitants couldn't visit there for a long time. In 2003 we had the chance to visit Valkjärvi for the first time. Some of the relatives had already been there several times.
Cousins gathered to the place where their ancestors were born.
There were no buildings left, just field of a hay.
We took some strawberry plants with us, and planted them in our garden.
All what was left from the church was this bell.
No graves nor headstones could be found anymore, just this monument to remind us of the fallen war heroes.
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