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War veterans in Finland: at a glance

December 2, 2015

As Finland’s Independence Day (December 6) approaches, here are some facts for you*:

  • There are about 23,000 living war veterans in Finland who took part in the Winter.-, Continuing- and/or Lapland War.
  • Almost half of them are women.
  • The average age of these veterans is 91 years of age.
  • A great deal of these veterans were 18-19 years old when they went to the front. 209 of those veterans turned 100 this year.
  • The oldest Finnish veteran is Toivo Rantala and he is 107 years old.
  • Female veterans served on the front lines unarmed, they dealt with anti-aircraft activities, communications, food services and taking care of the wounded and dead.
  • About 600 Finnish war veterans live abroad, including in Sweden, Canada, the US, Australia and Estonia.
  • Many veterans live in old age homes, others are widowed and live alone at home or they are caring for a spouse in their own homes.
  • The veterans who are still in good shape take part in sports and recreation activities. One of them is a triple jump world champion in his 90s.

One of Finland’s most popular veterans of late was Hannes Hynönen. He became a media sensation when he danced with author Sofi Oksanen at the President’s Independence Day ball in 2014. Hynönen died on November 30 at the age of 102.

(*Compiled from a rough translation of an article in Helsingin Sanomat)

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