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Can culture hold a people together and song save a nation?

These short video clips gave me pause, and nudged me to reflect upon the many solemn blessings of our freedom, often taken for granted.

Oh, that we hold ourselves to a higher purpose through these trying times. –

 The song, Finlandia (This Is My Song), was originally written and sung in 1899 as a covert protest against increasing censorship of Finland by the Russian Empire. The lyrics written in 1941 are powerful and speak to the beauty, strength and love of a nation struggling to hold to a higher purpose…

Oh, that we hold ourselves to a higher purpose.

 


The Indigo Girls

 

Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolutions. But song was the weapon of choice when, between 1986 and 1991, Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. During those years, hundreds of thousands gathered in public to sing forbidden patriotic songs and to rally for independence.

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The military history of Finland during World War II encompasses three major conflicts. The first two––the defensive Winter War in 1939–1940, and the Continuation War alongside the Axis Powers in 1941–1944––were waged against the Soviet Union. The third one, the Lapland War in 1944–1945, followed the signing of an armistice agreement with the Allied Powers, which stipulated expulsion of German forces from Finnish territory.

By the end of hostilities, Finland managed to defend its independence, but had to cede nearly 10% of its territory, including its second largest city, Viipuri, and pay out a large amount of war reparations to the Soviet Union. As a result of this territorial loss, all Finnish Karelians were evacuated from their homes, relocating to areas that remained within the borders of Finland.