torstai 6. joulukuuta 2012

Independence Day

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.
Aki wrote:
"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. 
You'll find more stories here

18 kommenttia:

  1. So sad to lose an uncle and a home, but great that both are being remembered.

  2. Everything about this story is sad - losing a child/brother/uncle, evacuating one's home, burning one's home. I have never experienced such loss. In your act of remembering, you not only pay tribute to a life lost too soon but also you remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.

  3. Loss, sacrifice, rememberance - such universal themes whatever the country may be. And uniforms are just another type of overall aren't they.

  4. Your family made a huge sacrifice. I was touched to read about the strawberries, a living memorial providing a connection to your former home.

  5. That is such a great photo of your husband's uncle, and such a shame that he died so young. Was there documentation of how they died to tell that they ran across the ice?

    It's lovely that the family remembers the ancestors with such pride and respect.

  6. Wow, what a story! So interesting, yet so sad. The photo the parents of Akseli's at his funeral - so very sad. And then to read that they had to burn their house down. More sadness. Such tragedies.

  7. I can only echo Wendy's comment. You've taken a simple theme and transformed it into a very special memorial. A tragic story yes, but beautifully presented, thank you.

  8. A moving story with waht are not just family, but historic photographs. Thank you for aloowing us to read it.

  9. I, too, am incredibly touched by the strawberries; the photograph of all the people gathered back at the family home again is a wonderful testimony to the strength of family ties and remembrances.

  10. Oh, wow. What a touching story of a brave young man, of your family and the loss of a community. I am so glad that you guys all got to go back and visit as a group.

    To think that they would burn their home down so the enemy couldn't take it over for themselves.

    Thank you,

    Kathy M.

  11. Sota on mieletöntä.
    Tuli niin surullinen olo lukiessani tätä kirjoitustasi.
    Niin paljon turhaa touhua taaskin, kunpa osaisimme pysähtyä edes jouluna.

  12. Oh, such a heartbreaking story! So tragic and sad.

  13. What a haunting story. I wasn't aware Finland had been ruled by Sweden and Russia so I have learned something new here, plus your tribute to Akseli is very touching. Thank you for sharing.

  14. I read hard to imagine and heroic things about the war between the Fins and the Russians. My thoughts are with you.

  15. Oh, how very sad, not just to lose a son at such a young age, but having to burn your home, evacuate, then evacuate again.... What a thoughtful tribute to Akseli.

  16. Such a very sad story, but it's nice that his story has now been told.

  17. Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! I really appreciate them all.