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National Veterans’ Day in 2024 in Vaasa

National Veterans’ Day is celebrated annually on 27 April. The day honours Finland’s war veterans and commemorates the end of the war and the beginning of peace. The day marks the anniversary of the end of the war in Lapland.

National Veterans’ Day has been celebrated since 1987. The proposal for a National Veterans’ Day was made by Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa and confirmed by the Government on the proposal of Minister of Defence Veikko Pihlajamäki in 1986.

The 2024 National Veterans Day will be celebrated on Saturday 27 April 2024 in Vaasa. The Main Ceremony will take place in Botniahalli.

The Veterans’ Day and the Veterans’ Week are being prepared in a large-scale cooperation led by the City of Vaasa. The preparations involve the Finnish Defence Forces, congregations, veterans’ and national defence organisations, and more.

Main Ceremony at Botniahalli on 27 April 2024

The Main Ceremony of Veterans’ Day will be held at Botniahalli (Papinsaarentie 2, Mustasaari) on 27 April at 13.30.

The ceremony will be broadcast live and will be available on Yle1 and Yle Arena.

 

More details of the programme will be updated at a later date.

 

Programme for Veterans’ Week

The week of Veterans’ Day will include a varied programme of events to honour the message of Veterans’ Day and to pass on knowledge to younger generations.

 

27 April 2024

9.00 A solemn flag-raising ceremony at the Statue of Finnish Freedom in Vaasa’s Market Square.

At 10 Ecumenical, bilingual commemorative service in Vaasa Church.

 

The programme for the week will be updated later.

Theme of the 2024 National Veterans’ Day

The theme of the 2024 National Veterans’ Day,” Preserving the heritage of veterans – together we succeed”, conveys the importance of preserving the heritage of veterans and ensuring its continued recognition.

 

Professor Ilkka Virtanen, member of the commemorative committee, introduces the theme:

“The wartime sacrifices made by veterans and the entire veteran generation to safeguard our country’s independence and freedom, their post-war reconstruction work, and their multifaceted activities in various roles in the welfare society based on these sacrifices are the most magnificent and valuable part of our country’s history. Preserving this knowledge and passing it on to future generations is a matter of honour for all of us.”

This message is particularly important now that the veteran generation is leaving us for good and the legacy of veterans’ organisations is being passed on to the next generation. This year’s theme is a commitment to safeguarding the legacy of veterans. And it will be done successfully when it is done according to the principles of veterans – together.”  

 

The look of Veterans Day 2024 was created by the city’s graphic designer Jouko Keto.

”As we walk through our forests, we can see blueberry bushes producing a new crop and our waterways thawing from winter to summer. As we pick blueberries from its twig, we remember what our war veterans have sacrificed so that we can still stand in the silence of the forest today – in an independent Finland. Finnish nature has existed for thousands of years before Finland, and thanks to our veterans, we have a right to nature that will continue to exist after our time has passed. We will continue to cherish this heritage, never forgetting where it originated,” says Keto about the creation of the look.

 

Over the years, the main national celebration of National Veterans’ Day has been held across the country. The last celebration in Vaasa was in 1998, when the theme was ”Men and women of our wars – the safeguard of our independence”.

History of the Oak Leaf Symbol

As the 1980s started, the appreciation of veterans in Finnish society grew clearly. This was demonstrated by the involvement of the state in the pension and rehabilitation of frontline veterans. War veterans had long hoped for public recognition by the state. This led to the creation of the badge with the Oak Leaf insignia, a symbol of bravery since ancient times and used in Finland as the emblem of the Cross of Liberty.

The Oak Leaf Badge was unveiled in 1985 and the first badge was presented to President Mauno Koivisto in 1986. All men and women who have been awarded a front-line soldier or front-line service medal are entitled to use the veteran’s badge. Despite its modest appearance, the Oak Leaf has become a respected and accepted emblem that unites all veterans of our wars. It has also become the traditional symbol of National Veterans’ Day.

As a result of cooperation between veterans’ organisations and the state authorities, the Government decided on 30 April 1986 to designate 27 April as National Veterans’ Day to honour and promote the work of the veterans of our wars.

National Veterans’ Day was celebrated for the first time in 1987. Back then, there were 320 000 men and women veterans alive, with an average age of around 70 years. By the end of 2023, there were around 2,200 veterans, of whom around 58% were women and the average age was around 99 years.

Contact details for all activities related to the National Veterans’ Day

Chair of the organising committee, Christina Knookala, Director of the Department of Education of the City of Vaasa, christina.knookala@vaasa.fi tel. 040 556 5011

Secretary of the organising committee, Anna-Maija Iitola, Project Manager, anna-maija.iitola@vaasa.fi, tel. 040 159 6195

Chair of the Commemorative Committee, Joakim Strand, Chairman of Vaasa City Council, joakim.strand@eduskunta.fi

Deputy Chairman of the Commemorative Committee, Tomas Häyry, Mayor of Vaasa, tomas.hayry@vaasa.fi