"Then and Now" /A celebration in the Finnish /American Perspective/ "Ennen ja Nyt"/
Pikku Joulu 2008  


Museum Celebrates Another Pikku Joulu and Independence

The unfurled Finnish and American flags presented by Virpi Buck and Heikki Penttila at the Pikku Joulu celebration at Harding High School on December 13th, once again honored long years of work, faith and strife in the Fairport community by early immigrants and their posterity as they faced life in a new world.  How fortunate we, as later generations, have inherited citizenry of this, our noble country, which has offered us wonderful multitudes of personal opportunities.

  Happy Holidays Following the singing of the national anthems, the group was warmly welcomed by President Penttila.   Rev.Larry Mackey led the group in opening prayer.  Harvey Horton presented beautiful music on the kantele.  A quartette composed of Nina Boyett, Milly Laituri, David Katila, and Tim Hadden presented “Kun Joulu Valkeneepi”.  Kathy Pierce related the Legend of the Christmas tree, and Jane Hiltunen and Nina Boyett led the group in a sing-along of Christmas carols.

 An interesting interview by Anne Pohto of a Finnish exchange student presently attending a local high school added to the evening’s culture.
    Anja Vincent presented the keynote address regarding the Finnish Nobel Prize winners.  Introducing the history of previous Finnish winners goes back to Frans Sillanpaa who won for his literary achievement in 1939.  Arturi Ilmari Virtanen won for his work in chemistry in 1945.  Radmar Grant, working with two other Swedish researchers, won the Nobel Prize in 1967.  Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, willed all of his estate to promote peace.  The first award for peace was given in 1901 to the International Red Cross.            

   MarttiAhtisaariMartti Ahtisaari, former Finnish president, is the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner.  He was awarded the prize on the 10th of December.  He grew up in Finland, taught elementary education, and also taught in Pakistan. He returned to Finland to study economics, and soon found he working for the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  At the age of 36 he became the Finnish ambassador to Tanzania.  In 1978 he became the Commissioner and special representative for the Secretary General of the United Nations for Namibia.

   Following a change in election procedures in Finland in 1990’s, Finns could now vote directly for the president rather than through the Electoral College.  In 1994 Ahtisaari ran for president and was elected by a 53% majority for a 6-year term. 

   He has worked for peace, bringing Finland into the European Union, for the independence of Namibia from South Africa, and bringing about peaceful relations between the International Association of Indonesia and the rebel elements, and Kosovo’s peace challenges.  He continues to work on crisis management around the globe.  He does not claim the honors for himself alone, but shares them with his country and people of Finland.  
         Lasse Hiltunen presented a digital slide show honoring Martti Ahtisaari titled: “Martti Ahtisaari, a Peace Tribute.” 

   With the singing of Silent Night, the audience then adjourned to refreshments in the Fairport Harbor Public Library Community room following the benediction by Rev. Larry Mackey.

© Copy by Elaine Lillback




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