Helsinki (Dagbladet): They are back in silence. Nightmares and trauma have once again become the daily life of many Finland war veterans.
Nearly 5,000 of them are still alive.
Now they see Ukrainian soldiers suffer the same thing they did 80 years ago. war. disturbance. the death.
95-year-old Erki Mericalio was there by herself. Hosted in the front. He fought for the freedom of his country.
He fought for 680 days against the Soviet forces during World War II. He said he was 17 years old. In fact, he was only 15 years old and was too young to be conscripted by the military.
He lied to get a chance to fight for Finland’s freedom.
With the struggle against the Soviet superpower came painful losses.
Losses and memories he will never forget.
– I was young. Too young. But I wanted to fight for Finland. When I got to the front and joined the team, I was asked where I came from. When I told them, they asked me if I knew anyone else from the same place. lit up. He was my older brother. Then the message came. He was killed two days ago. He was only 19 years old. It is one of the memories I will never get rid of, Mericalio says.
The only solution
He never regretted having recruited and fought for Finland. He is now following the situation in Ukraine closely. Every day he reads newspapers and watches the news on TV.
In front of him, he saw pictures of young soldiers fighting for their homeland. Not just on the screen. He was one of them.
– If you are strong enough to carry a gun, you are strong enough to fight for your country. Everyone wanted to do what they could to defend Finland 80 years ago. This is the same situation that I see in the Ukrainians now. I am concerned about civilians and how they are doing. But the veteran said fighting Putin was the only acceptable response to the attack.
Until February 24, he was sure that the Russian president was only trying to intimidate Ukraine. During the 95 years of his life, Merikallio has seen many wars begin and end in the world.
– But to have a war so close again in my life, it was such a big surprise. I didn’t think this would happen. I’m used to living in peacetime, says the old warrior.
Brutal and totally unacceptable. This is how he describes the attacks and invasion of the neighboring country.
I’ve seen her before. The prelude to the outbreak of the Winter War in the winter of 1939 and the war in Ukraine is similar.
Across Ukraine, young soldiers are preparing to fight the battle of their lives.
Children dig trenches.
While parents bury their children.
Those who are still able to fight, charge their weapons. Just like Merikallio himself did 80 years ago.
– What I see brings back memories of the war. For my part, it went well mentally, but I know that’s not the case for everyone, says the 95-year-old.
Just before Christmas, when the Russian troops began their maneuvers, he began to pay extra attention to the news coming from the east. Signs indicated that something was not right. Something big was about to happen.
Our neighbor in the East is unpredictable, says the ancient warrior.
Victory every day
When the Winter War of 1939 broke out, the Soviet Union claimed that Finland had started the offensive. In the same way that the Finns were blamed at the time, he now sees Russia blaming Ukraine.
The veteran was impressed by the Ukrainian opposition.
Now he wants to send a message to those who are fighting for their lives and for freedom.
My thoughts are with the Ukrainians, how well they can withstand the attacks. As long as they could maintain a fighting spirit, they would do well. Please, persevere, says Mericalio.
– They should keep fighting. Keep fighting.
Every day passes in their favour.
Every day they hold back the Russians is a victory.
Many have questioned Putin’s mental state since the attacks began. The veteran isn’t sure what’s going on. Whether the Russian president actually understands what he’s doing.
At the same time, he is now asking his home country to take a step that they have been discussing for decades.
It is possible that Finland will participate more in the war, as is the case with Russia now. We had to become members of NATO as early as the early 1990s. Now we have to become a member. The only thing we can do is head west. Stop talking, start acting, and let’s stand together against tyranny, says Mericalio.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”