Saturday, July 30, 2016

 The FinNALA Newsletter

Communication of the Finnish North-American Literature Association

Volume 9, No. 2
Publication of the Finnish North American Literature Association

© August 1, 2016

 Beth L. Virtanen, Editor-in-Chief
Sirpa Kaukinen, Assistant Editor
G.K. Wuori, QC Watchdog

It’s time to Subscribe/Renew your Membership for 2016 in theFinnish North American Literature Association (FinNALA)

The Perks of Membership:
·         Receive online access to Kippis! Literary Journal
·         Receive access to the FinNALA Facebook group
·         Get announcements of what’s happening in the Finnish-North American literary community
·         Get online issues of the FinNALA Newsletter

Membership Fee for 2016
·         $20.00 US

 By Mail
·          Send your name and address and your membership fee in the form of a check or money order made out to “FinNALA” to the following address:
       Beth Virtanen, President
FinNALA, 931 Bayshore Road, L'Anse, MI 49946  USA

·         Use your credit card for online payment.
     o   Visit us at
     o   Click on Membership and submit payment with PayPal
     o   You don’t need a PayPal account—look for link to pay with your credit card.

Kippis Is Accepting Submissions

Kippis is still accepting submissions for the Fall 2016 issue of the journal.  We're pretty well set on fiction for the issue, but would like to see some essay-memoir-personal reflection pieces as well as - especially - some poetry.  Give in to that crazy urge to submit something!  Submission guidelines can be found here:  Send your work to gkwuori at hotmail dot com.

Membership in the
FinNALA Facebook Group Growing

For the past couple of years, FinNALA has operated a private group for its membership to share announcements and updates, and to provide opportunities for networking among its membership. Membership participation has grown and each month sees new members joining the group. Please do feel free to request membership in that closed group in order to share information about your own publications and publications of interest to you, including links to your own websites where your publications might be purchased. As well, readers can share reviews of the works they would like to recommend. FinNALA is pleased to see a vigorous exchange among our members and guests.

To join, simply search for "FinNALA" and request membership. An editor will approve your request quickly. 

Announcements & News

Brooks Launches New Publishing House

Kaarina Brooks, writing romance novels under her pen name, Karen Rossi, has launched her own publishing company, Wisteria Publications. Her first project will be to publish the print version of her novel, No Home for My Heart, which is already out as an e-book, published by Etopia Press.  It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, bookstore (Apple), and Google Play, as well as All Romance eBooks and our website. 

Kallonen's Sissiluutnatti under translation by Roinila

Sissiluutnatti (Guerilla Lieutenant), by Kari Kallonen (Revontuli, 2009), is being translated by Mika Roinila

Here is a back cover book summary:

"Times are hard, but so are the boys."

Telegram to S/S Dothan Victor with Olavi Alakulppi en route to the United States

Knight of the Mannerheim Cross Olavi Alakulppi won a cross-country skiing world championship gold medal in Zakopane, in 1939, and used his skills to benefit him as a guerrilla lieutenant in the ranks of Special Detachment Sau, as he pursued Soviet partisans that attacked Lapland villages. He tried to get the UN War Crimes Commission to investigate the brutal murder of women and children for many years before these war-time atrocities were generally recognized.

After the war the State Police threw the war hero to jail on suspicion of a weapons cache case. Alakulppi escaped from the guards and fled to Sweden, where he stayed like other Marttinen's men seeking a new future in the United States. A patriotic man became a man without a native land. Captain Olavi Alakulppi rose to US Army lieutenant colonel, and also won the nation’s championship in cross-country skiing and participated in the Korean War.

War and exile demand their own toll. Olavi Alakulppi’s son Vesa died in Vietnam, and son Seppo died as a baby during the war years. A third Alakulppi son was buried in anonymity in the United States. The father saw his daughter for the first time when the child was three years old.

Guerrilla Lieutenant is the story of an illustrious athlete, and through forced circumstances, became a brave soldier. Kari Kallonen, who received this year’s war-book award, has written about Finnish soldiers in the Vietnam War as well as in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. This is his ninth informational book.

Diane Dettmann releases the sequel to her award winning book, Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel!

Outskirts Press released Yasu's Quest on July 19, 2016. It is available from booksellers worldwide, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find information about the book at the following address:

Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph Is a Powerful and Engaging Read

In June of 1944, as World War II rages on overseas, a feeling of defeat looms over eighteen-year-old Yasu Sakamoto. Three years of her young life have wasted away in a Japanese internment camp in eastern California. Imprisoned by barbwire and military guards, she yearns for freedom and lifelong dreams waiting for her beyond the fence. In this skillfully woven coming-of-age story, Yasu’s journey began in Diane Dettmann’s book, Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. In the sequel, Diane carries readers into the next phase of Yasu Sakamoto’s life. Bombarded with barriers of discrimination and prejudice, Yasu realizes— like the barbwire fences—there will always be obstacles in her life that take courage, determination and sometimes the support of others to overcome.  

Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph completes the story Dettmann created in her accomplished work, Courageous Footsteps. In this sequel, she beautifully captures Yasu Sakamoto’s poignant struggle to survive and thrive amid the pro-American hubbub that was coupled with overtly anti-Japanese propaganda of the time. With the help of a mentor strong enough to stand with her against those rabid anti-Japanese sentiments, Yasu perseveres to overcome and extricate herself from the terrible grip of fate.”
             Beth L. Virtanen, Ph.D. President, Finnish North-American Literature Association; Professor and Assistant Program Director, South University, Online

“A story that celebrates the courage of the human spirit and its ability not only to rise above war and prejudice, but to overcome and heal. A testimony to the Japanese Americans and the hardships they faced after WWII. Inspiring, entertaining and written from the heart.”
            —Narita Roady, Book Blogger and Writer

“Free of the barbed wire confines of the internment camp, Yasu could not escape injustice. Or did she? Reader, beware of a personal call from Yasu to make life better for others. Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph is a poignant story of courage and determination with unmistakable relevance today.”
            —Ann Wolff, President of the Stillwater Public Library Foundation

Diane Dettmann is the author of Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel, a Pacific Rim Beach Festival winner, and Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal. She is also the co-author of Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants and a contributing author for the national Women’s Voices for Change organization in New York City. Diane’s books are available online at Amazon, Barnes &Noble and many other online bookstores; also available at various independent bookstores. For more information visit Diane’s website at


Finnish Consul Visited New Finland, Saskatchewan, Canada

by Hazel Lauttamus Birt

        The Honorary Finnish Consul of Hawaii Katja Silveró visited New Finland, Saskatchewan, in August 2016. Her relative David Kautonen was the first Finnish settler to arrive in what became a large Finnish settlement.

            This is interesting to me as I grew up on that pioneer farm. In 1888 my great grandfather Johan Kustaa Lauttamus and his wife Sana Liisa Isosomppi funded David Kautonen from their home town of Kauhava, Finland to find a homestead for him and his family. Kautonen bought an existing homestead from a Swedish settler that  already had a sod house, some land in crops and a team of oxen. Kautonen took the next 1/4 section as his homestead. Juhan and his large family arrived in 1890. They wrote back to Finland urging people to join them. Immigration officials helped: In 1900 a C.K. Henderickson in Ottawa wrote to Immigration officials, ‘Send us more Finnish settlers. They are literate, hard working and will make good citizens. This is the North West Territories and conditions here are harsh and any English speaking individual with a good sized capital might starve where as Finns with limited means seem to be striving.'
            The settlers arrived by train to Whitewood. They would walk the 25 miles to the Lauttamus homestead and live with the family until the settlers helped them make a log cabin on their own homestead.  Emil Mustama, in 1891 was the first baby born in New Finland in the sauna at the Lauttamus homestead. 
            In later years when David Kautonen died his wife Amalia Nahkala married my widower great grandfather Johan Lauttamus. They lived in log cabin behind son Gus Lauttamus farmhouse as was the custom. 

New Finland Church
by Ritta Toppari of
Kauhava Finland

            The New Finland community was centred on and around the Lauttamus homestead: church and hall were  built on the land. The New Finland School 1/2 mile down the road. The New Finland Cemetery is just West of the Lauttamus farmhouse. The first to be buried was Vilhelmiina Lauttamus (Myllymaki) and her infant son John in 1896.
            Life in the large settlement continued uninterrupted until the 1950's when more and more young people left for higher educations and better jobs. The rural schools were closed and children bussed to school. The New Finland Hall was closed and moved away. Dozens of homestead houses stand vacant on land bought by local farmers. The Lauttamus farmhouse is vacant but the homestead is still owned by Lauttamus descendants.
            Today the New Finland Lutheran Church is still the centre of the community. The two Cemeteries are kept in good condition. They hold a Juhannus celebration every year which is well attended not just by local people but people coming ‘home’ for it from as far away as Thailand.
              The history book ‘Life in the New Finland Woods’ was published by us descendants in 1982. The Editor Nancy Mattson wrote a well received literary poem: ‘Maria Breaks her Silence’ about her ancestor  widow Maria Nahkala Kautonen who married my great grandfather widower Johan Kustaa Lauttamus.

Creative Submissions

A Languid Summer Evening

by Anita Erola

In the balmy
summer twilight

the soft breeze
soothes my mind

the hammock
rocks my body

flora’s sweet aroma
fills the air

clouds drift slowly
into fairy tale shapes

crickets serenade
the velvet evening

the sun retires
behind tall pines

casting the day’s last shadow
deep into the lake water

I go to sleep
and listen for the geese.

by Mirjam Rand
(translated below)

Kun astun viulu  sepän pajaan, taustana soi suomalaista pop musiikkia, ja tuuletin hyrrää omaa lauluaan.  Tummatukkainen Natanael tarkastaa työn alla olevan viulun sisään. Hän käyttää pientä kengän nauhan kokoista LED valoa.  Valo hohtaa mutta ei lämmitä  instrumentin sisäpuolta.

“On tärkeä ettei liimat ja lakat pehmene,” selittää, Natanael, V.A.Hill Fine Strings Ltd. työpajassaan Calgaryssa. Viulun kansi kiiltää valojen alla. Ympärillä on monenlaisia vaahterapuusta tehtyjä osia, puunauloja, lakkaa ja ihan erinomaisia työkaluja. Viulun uudistus tapahtuu taitavissa mestarin käsissä.

Eikä ihme koska Natanael ei ainoastaan rakenna viuluja mutta tuntee instrumentin hyvin, koska on ollut lapsesta asti sen soittaja. Äitinsä Marja, ikooni taiteilija , harrasti myös viulun soittoa. Olihan isäkin, Petros Iwao Sasaki, myös viulun soittaja ja ikoonien maalaaja. Petros oli nuorena miehenä tullut Japanista Suomeen. Arkki Piispa Johannes Paavali oli tutustunut häneen Kreikassa  ja oli kutsunut Sasakin Suomivierailulle. Ikoonitaide luokalla Petros tapasi Marjan ja he rakastuivat. Savolainen Marja ja samurai sukuinen Petros perustivat kodin jossa taide ja musiikki kasvoivat. Kasvoi myos kolme miehen alkua joille tietysti opetettiin viulun soittoa.

Marja äiti oli ensimmäinen opettaja kolmevuotiaalle Natanaelle. Joskus hänen  oli lahjottava leluilla poikansa harjoittelemaan. Kun Natanael täytti neljä vuotta Marja oli sitä mieltä, että Kuopion Konservatooriossa poika edistyisi nopeammin kuin kotona. Mentiin yhdessä, poika ja äiti, opettajien arvosteltaviksi. Ei poika uskaltanut soittaa herrojen edessä. Ulos vain! Konservatoorion rappusilla, hän soitti kuin virtuooso. Soitto kuului sisällä olevien opettajien korviin asti. “Osaathan soittaa”, kuului konttorista. Viisi vuotiaana Natanael yhdistyi Kuopion Musiikki Conservatorioon. Zoja Istomina, Venäläisen viulukoulun mestari , ja Kuopion Musiikki Conservatoorion johtaja, osasi taidokkaasti johtaa Natanaelia niin että viulun soitosta tuli pojalle kuin jokapäiväinen elämisen ehto. 

Esiintyminen on pidättäytyvälle Suomalaiselle vaikeaa. Istominan alaisena nuorukainen kehittyi terveeseen kurinalaisuuteen, ja luotamuksellinen suhde kasvoi samalla oppilaan ja opettajan välille. Se ei ole itsestäänselvyys taidealalla joka vaatii kaiken.  Hyvin edistyvälle ja hienokäytöksiselle oppilaalle avautui ovet Suomen arvokkaimpaan musiikkiopin ahjoon, Sibelius Akadeemiaan. Natanael oli silloin yhdeksän vuotias.

Tuleva ura sai alkunsa. Viikolla Natanael kävi Kuopion kansakoulua ja viikonloput hän opiskeli Helsingissa Sibelius Akademiassa. Kaverit koulussa kiusasivat poikaa jolla ei ollut aikaa pallopeliin, koska kaikki hänen vapaa-aikansa kului vielun kimpussa. Kiusaus muuttui kunnioitukseen, kun Natanaelin viulusta lähtevät sävelet pehmittivät ilkivaltaisten poikien tunteet.

Sibelius Akademiassa opetettiin tunnetusti parhaat ja tarkat metoodit venaläis tyyliseen  viulun soittoon. Natanael muistaa hyvin kuinka avulias oli Hagai Shaham, mestari viulisti Israelista. Tämä viisas soittaja opetti ettei soiton ydin ollutkaan vain teknisesti täydellinen soitto. Tärkeampää oli että musiikki sai syntyä sydämestä.

Igor Bezrodny, tunnettu viulisti ja aikoinaan Turun Orkesterin johtaja,selitti nuorukaiselle kuinka tärkeää esiintymisessä oli mielen harjoitus. Se että Bezrodny hallitsi viulunsoiton jossa tekninen ja tunteellinen taso pääsivät täydellisesti oikeuksiinsa teki suuren vaikutuksen Natanaeliin. Vaikka Bezrodny oli mailmankuulu soittaja ja opettaja hän ei koskaan kerskaillut soittotaidollaan. Tästä ominaisuudesta Natanael otti mallia ja edistyi teini ikäiseksi viuluneroksi.

Tuntui kuin maa olisi auennut Natanaelin jalkojen alla lohikäärmeen kidan tavoin, kun rakas professori Bezrodny  kuoli yhtäkkiä. Oli vuosi 1997 ja Natanael oli juuri hakeutumassa Sibelius Akademian jatko-opinnoille. Silloin kahdeksantoistavuotiaana muut professorit eivät tunteneet Natanaelia kuten Bezrodny olisi hänet tuntenut. Aikuisoppilaaksi katsottuna häntä ei hyväksytty jatko-opinnoille.

"Sitten sain kutsun armeijaan", Natanaeli kertoi. Olkapää oli jo  kipeytynyt niin kuin jokaisella vakavalla viulunsoittajalla. Armeijassa kannettin painavia reppuja lisäten olkapään rasitusta.  Tajusin sotaharjoituksissa, että elämän urani viulun soittajana oli haudattava. Silloin välähti mieleen että voisinhan tulla viulusepäksi!”

Armeija palveluksken jälkeen hän haki ja sai paikan Englannissa, Newarkin Viulunteko koulussa. Koulutus johon kului paljon varoja kesti neljä vuotta.  Sotaveteraanit Suomessa, joitten laulujuhlissa Natanael oli usein soittanut ilmaiseksi,  auttoivat häntä rahallisesti. Natanael uskoo karmaan.

Istun edelleen Natanaelin vieressä kun hän kertoo päässeensä viulumestarin tasolle. Pomonsa, Vicky, tietää kuinka kullan arvoinen Natanael on kun tällä mestarilla on niin erikoinen ymmärrys viuluista. Ei ihme. Natanael ei ole ainoastaan nero viulisti. Hän on myös vertaansa vailla oleva viuluseppä! 

The Violin Maker 

by Mirjam Rand

Nataniel, dark haired, bespectacled and agile, is intently working on a violin as I walk into his workshop in Calgary, Alberta. Finnish pop tunes play in the background. A whirring fan provides a tune of its own. Bits and pieces of violin components, and there are surprisingly many, are neatly stacked in small cubby holes around his work space. A round bright light, suspended immediately above, is reflected on the shiny belly of a violin. Carefully resting on a soft towel, the precious instrument is being refitted with new parts.

As a Master Luthier, Nataniel knows not only about violin construction but also the music that can come from such an instrument. And it’s no surprise, for Nat, as he likes to be called, has been playing the violin since he was three years of age.

In the early 70’s, Petros Iwao Sasaki, a descendant of  Samurais, a student of Eastern Orthodox theology and an icon artist, left Japan to travel around Europe. Equipped with a diplomatic passport, Petros arrived in Greece where he met with fellow Orthodox believers. Paavali, Archbishop of the Independent Finnish Orthodox Church was there and invited Petros to visit Finland. So it was that Petros found himself in Finland, enjoying a painting class with fellow icon artists. Among the artists,one young woman caught Petros’ eye. She was Marja, a devout Orthodox believer and a painter of icons from the Savo region of Finland. Much to the chagrin of the church elders who had wished the brilliant young theologian to become a monk, Petros married Marja. In time, three sons were born; Jaso in 1976, Natanael in 1980 and Simeon in 1984. As both parents were violinists, it was only natural that the boys would begin lessons early.

Mother Marja was Nat’s first teacher. Toys were used as bribes to get little three year old Nat to practice his violin playing. This worked, and Nat and his violin became inseparable. At four years of age, Marja was sure that her son’s virtuosity would win over the judges and that he would be accepted into Kuopio’s Music School. But Nat refused to comply and walked out into the stairwell, a safe distance from those fearful judges. There, on the stairs, Nat opened his small violin case, took out his child sized bow and began to play. The judges, up in their room, could hear the most beautiful notes echoing through the hallway. They were impressed. So, at five years of age Nat was accepted into the Kuopio Conservatory of Music. Zoja Istomina, a violin virtuoso in the Russian School of violin, performed all over the world, and was the director of the Kuopio Conservatory. He took a keen interest in Nat, encouraging the young player and teaching him the techniques of performance. The young boy flourished under the excellent tutelage of Istomina and, at age nine, was accepted to study with the best and most prestigious school of music in Finland-The Sibelius Academy.

Schools are not easy places for child geniuses, and Nat was required to attend the Kuopio Public School while studying simultaneously at the Sibelius Academy. He was often teased by his class mates. However, name calling quickly turned to admiration when Nat would play a violin solo.
The Sasaki family were generous in sharing Nat’s talents with their community. War veteran events were a favourite for Nat. He would take out his bow and and the crowds would be mesmerized by the music that flowed from that violin. Many of Marja’s family members had served in the war, including a grandmother who belonged to the LOTTA group, a women’s volunteer brigade. Nat’s violin playing, free of charge, was one way the family could show their gratitude for the brave Finns who had fought in the war.

Instructors were key in teaching Nat the best techniques in the Russian School of violin. Hagai Shaham, a music professor from Israel, remains one of Nat’s favourites. It was this maestro from Israel, eventually becoming the ‘Grand Daddy of the Sibelius Academy’, who taught Nat that music comes not only from skilled technical craftsmanship but more importantly, from the heart. Another teacher was Igor Bezrodny, an intellectual man, who patiently explained to Nat the reasons for the acute mental training that is so important for musical performance. Bezrodny’s playing was technically perfect yet his music had a freshness of feeling, light and warmth. He was never arrogant. This is what Nat wanted, yet found that, at seventeen,

“When you constantly tell yourself that you are the best it’s easy to get an inflated ego.”
Bezrodny also instructed Nat in learning the stories behind each musical piece. Like a sponge, young Nat absorbed Bezrodny’s teaching. Nat’s music, which was already technically brilliant, now had ‘soul’.

Nat’s musical career, which was thriving under Bezrodny’s tutelage, received a blow when in 1997 his beloved teacher suddenly died. Having studied in the Sibelius Academy since age nine, Nat now was required to apply to the Academy again, as an 18 year old adult. A teacher recommendation and a test would easily secure a place at the Academy. However, the replacement teacher did not recommend Nat and so the 18 year old prodigy found himself 13th on a list of 12 accepted to the Sibelius Academy.

Then came the call for compulsory military training which all Finnish men must complete. Nat pauses as he relives this time in his life.

“I had never really conditioned my body for exercise as I was practicing violin for eight hours a day. I experienced the sore shoulder that every violin player has. Add to this the rigours of heavy carrying in the army and I knew that my career was at the crossroads.”

Serving with the Northern Karelia Brigade, Nat was standing one day on guard and alone in the thick woods. Like a flash of lightning, an idea burst on the 19 year old soldier. Why not become a violin maker?

After completing six months of military training, Nat applied and was accepted at the Newark Violin School of England. Four years of training at Newark gave Nat the title ‘luthier’, or violin maker. An opportunity to practice his craft opened up in Canada at the  V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd. In Calgary, Alberta. Starting at the bottom, Nat quickly proved to Vicky, the owner of the business, that here was a young man with extraordinary talent. Customizing, modifying and restoring violins, Nat is now in his 12th year at V.A.Hill Fine Strings. 

Nat attributes his skill on the violin to his parents who demanded him to practice, practice and practice some more. He owes his love of the violin to the teachers who encouraged and supported him even when he was an egotistical 17 year old! And what about those years at Newark? An old army veteran friend had helped fund those years of learning. Above all, Nat sincerely believes that his diagnosed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) syndrome helps him to be innovative. His mind, running 24-7 helps him to see the minute nuances of a musical instrument that others may miss. Nat lives and breathes violins.

As for the future, Nat wants to build up his name as a violin maker and eventually start his own violin school. We wish you all the best!

Mirjam Rand is a freelance photographer and writer who lives in Innisfail,  Alberta, Canada. She and her brother, Eero of Vancouver, co-authored “American Monuments,” a coffee table book about 25 of America’s iconic monuments.

Last Swim

by Anita Erola

Before I grow too old to remember
let me go for one last swim
in the lake of my childhood memories.

I’ll feel the sun’s warmth under my feet
as I walk the granite slope to the water.

To my right
will be the pink and grey boulder
where I sat like a princess and read my first books.

On my left
the majestic old birch tree
its branches drooping ever lower over the water.

Step by step into the lake
I’ll walk with slow purpose
to connect with the familiar past.

I’ll open my palms to the surface
to touch and feel
and greet each gentle ripple.

When to my waist
I’ll lift my arms up overhead
to spring up and dive in with a childhood splash.

And I will swim
and swim
and swim.

From a distance
I’ll look back
at the familiar cottage on the slope.

Grandpa Kurt had it painted red
to easily spot it from afar
when he rowed back after checking his fishing nets.

The cottage is no longer the color of my childhood
I heard the cousins painted it yellow
I wonder if they know why it was red.

Grandpa’s wooden boat was painted a soft green
with red trim
no doubt it has since decayed.

I learned to row it
to a smooth glide
as the water sparkled in the oars’ wake.

Each summer
my grandmother and I made our way across
to pick berries on the lake’s distant side.

It’s said you can never go home again
yet, my childhood summers
still sparkle in my mind.

Let me go home again
for one last swim
in its memories.

There, I will swim
and swim
and swim.

And I will swim
and swim
and not look back.

How Many Footsteps in This World?

by Charles Peltosalo

I. You tout your years,
You cite your time,
You drum the loose brown drum of prior birth,
Claim insight deep from your superior time on Earth;

But, may I pause to ask you:

How many times have your feet touched this receding ground?
How many breaths have your lungs so far spent?
What's the count of the times your calm heart has beat in the added days
since you've been around?
How fiery your gaze, how unswerving your intent?

How many birds have seen your eyes?
How many trees have passed them by?
How many dusks and dawns the sun's spun round,Your gaze reflecting rose-red skies?
How many rocks and limbs have grasped your hands?
How many flowers have you smelled, for just how long, in
        how many far off different lands?

How many lakes, springs, and rivers,
Ponds, oceans, streams have your passionate arms embraced by faithful
        swims when swept away by love you felt when face to face?
How many circuits of arms flung flexed like beating wings
        to ply your way through the glassy smooth?
How many miles through wet and wave has your older casing moved?
How fast beat your faithful heart when for seasons your obedience
         made the daily prayer,
Carried you like the water's son, swimming long and weightless there?

How many heartbeats did it take to reach those peaks in such short time?
How many footsteps did you spend in days and weeks and
         months of climbs?
How fast your breath in such short space to take your feet from
         here to there?A day's allotment I will use in one hour's burst of prayer.

II. In my short time, I've heard these lungs sing for joy lost thousands times,
        lost in seasons millions long,
Felt these feet beat a fevered dance of distance, speed, and mountains
        climbed, and felt the muscles bristle strong,
Heard this heart beat a frantic drum more days than it has not, and

Yearn to burst like horses run;
A song of sweat and flight it's sung and
By its greater work has earned its wisdom staying young.

If years are measured by the day,
Then wiser in this world you'll be, the calendar will say.
But if days are measured by raw life that fills the hours of our time
        contained in their small course,
l've filled my smaller stretch of years with more space known with
         greater force,
And all our orbits round the sun will never hide that~- ~e young
        from all this world you've left undone. 

Marttinen's Men 
by George Rasula

My military cold weather experience began in December 1947 when I was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, with the 9th Infantry Regment, 2d Infantry Division.  At a pre-Christmas social function when speaking with the daughter of the division chief of staff, she asked the origin of my name Rasula. After telling her it was Finnish and I spoke the language, she immediately took me to a phone, called her father telling him she found a Finnish speaking officer, then gave me the phone. It was a brief one minute conversation, ordering me to be at his office at eight the next morning. 

George Rasula, Helsinki May 1971

Before the appointed time I was in the outer office of the commanding general where I met three former Finnish army officers, the leader being (Finnish army colonel) Alpo Marttinen. At the time I didn't know he had been the chief of staff of the Finnish division that had annihilated two Soviet divisions during the battle of Suomusalmi, November-December 1939. Nor did I know he was a recipient of the Mannerheim Cross, Finland's Medal of Honor. During this introductory meeting Marttinen told me what he wanted to emphasize to the commanding general. Five minutes later we were in the general's office where I acted as interpreter for Marttinen and two others learning, as did the general, that this group of thirteen former Finnish army officers had just joined the U.S. Army as private soldiers - our future leaders and instructors in winter warfare.

This began my initiation into winter warfare as well as upgrading my Finnish language. Marttinen told me my language was fifty year old which it obviously was because I spoke the language of my parents and grandparents. From then on for the next few months it was total immersion as my military vocabulary continued to grow.

One of the first things the Finns did was design a new sled for the army based on the sled used in the Finnish army in the form of a boat, now used by our Army today - the "ahkio." They had seen the sled the 10th Mountain Division used during WW II and immediately declared it obsolete. It was far too heavy and good only on packed trails.

Our pre-Arctic trips to Castle Mountain near Mount Rainier involved training our Yukon Company in the basics of winter survival and oversnow mobility, using techniques not seen in our field manuals. The group of Finns with me received English refresher lessons at night in preparation for teaching cross-country skiing the next day. To the veterans from Finland, skiing is a matter of moving soldiers from here to there, not the fancy downhill "stem christies" taught by the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

At McCord Air Force Base we received air mobility training on C-82 aircraft, the predecessor to the C-119 that later supplied us at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. In fact, the C-82 was my first "airplane ride." In time our Yukon Company loaded up with Arctic gear and flew to a base in Montana, then on to Fort Greely Alaska. It was at Greely where we received intensive live fire training in the care and use of weapons at low temperatures. Medics also had special training. I recall one of our medical officers spending the night out in the open at thirty below in an arctic evacuation bag, reporting it very satisfactory.

Important cold weather lessons were learned when we were flown north of the Arctic Circle  to Nome for a maneuver, a time when the sun is still below the horizon. There we experienced ice fog so dense we couldn't see beyond the tips of our skis, being reminded that gravity kept us fastened to the snow while sound waves revealed the location of the enemy.

It was during field execises when American soldiers learned the basics of survival from experienced soldiers like Sulo Uitto, or the fine art of sking from Olavi Alakulppi, and especially the much needed basics in winter warfare from the Finns I had the honor of soldiering with during that maneuver to Alaska: Erkki Lahdempera, Kalle Keranen, Vesa Jarvinen, Paavo Kaivinen, Aito Keravuori, Juho Anttila, Eino Lassila and Alpo Marttinen.

Members of the group were soon promoted to senior NCOs. Alpo Marttinen taught winter warfare in the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, then dressed in the uniform of a master sergeant, backed by flags captured from Soviet military organizations. After receiving U.S. citizenship those who remained in the service were commissioned officers in the United States Army.
A few years later Major Aito Keravuori attended the advance course at the Infantry School where Captain Rasula was a classmate. Because he still needed help with the English language, they arranged after-dinner sessions at Rasula's quarters where they discussed the lessons of the day, a very helpful teaching and learning environment for both officers. Ten years later they met in Saigon when Aito Keravuori was a Green Beret with the Special Forces. We close with memories of a meeting at Aito and Hella's home on a beautiful lake in the state of Maine. The sauna was the the ideal place for remembering the experience.

Note: Colonel George Rasula, of Clemson, S.C., is a Knight of the Commaner's Order of Finland's White Rose.

This story was first printed in the Finnish-American Reporter in 2005. It is reprinted here with permission of the author. 

Out of the Dark
Joanne Bergman, PhD
July 12, 2016 

            My forebears emigrated from Finland in the late 19th century, and Finnish was my parents’ first language. Believing we kids should grow up fully American, they kept their secret language from us, much to our mother’s later regret.
            My interest in the Finnish language remained at the level of a hobby until this summer, when I enrolled in Finnish 1001 at the University of Minnesota. Now every new word in Finnish--my birthright language--is a nugget, an agate I might polish and possess for my own personal use.
            My new obsession with Finnish feels very much like being in love. The language excites and exhilarates me and fills me with longing, a desire to own its vocabulary, its cadence, its music. In Minnesota, it’s much more fun to roll out “rannalla” than to say “on the shore.”