Finnish Defence Forces in charge of military honours at the funeral of President Ahtisaari
President Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari will be laid to rest on St Martin’s Day, Friday 10 November 2023. The Finnish Defence Forces will be in charge of their respected former commander-in-chief’s full military honours at the state funeral.
From the Finnish Defence Forces, an Army company of honour, a Defence Forces detachment of honour, and the Guards Band will be involved in the honorary tasks on the funeral day.
The military arrangements and military honours at the funeral will be the responsibility of Chief of the Helsinki Garrison and Commander of the Guard Jaeger Regiment, Colonel Matti Honko. On the funeral day, the military honours will be rendered and other arrangements completed by altogether up to c. 800 soldiers, of whom more than 100 will be cadets.
Funeral service at Helsinki Cathedral
The state funeral of President Ahtisaari will begin by a funeral service at Helsinki Cathedral at 13:00. At the funeral service, serving generals and admirals will act as pallbearers. Preceding the coffin will be Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Timo Kivinen, and Chief of the Finnish Border Guard, Lieutenant General Pasi Kostamovaara. A guard of honour of serving colonels and commodores will attend at the coffin, and the colour guard will consist of soldiers from several personnel groups of the Defence Command. Officer in charge of the military honours at the funeral service will be Colonel Vesa Laitonen assisted by Major Maria Hokkanen.
Military honours in front of Helsinki Cathedral and in the cortege
The military honours rendered in front of Helsinki Cathedral will be the responsibility of the Army company of honour appointed by the Guard Jaeger Regiment, and of the Guards Band. The company of honour will be commanded by Captain Jukka Saarela, and the Guards Band will be directed by Chief Conductor of the Finnish Defence Forces, Lieutenant Colonel (Mus.) Pasi-Heikki Mikkola.
The cortege of President Ahtisaari will leave Helsinki Cathedral after the funeral service. The cortege will proceed along the route of Unioninkatu, Aleksanterinkatu, Mariankatu (around the Main Guard), Pohjoisesplanadi, Unioninkatu, Aleksanterinkatu, Mannerheimintie, Arkadiankatu, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu to Mechelininkatu, and across Hietaniemi Cemetery from the gate of Old Chapel to Hietaniemi Chapel. Members of the public are welcome to view the cortege as it proceeds along its route.
Outside the Presidential Palace, the cortege and the detachment of honour will observe a minute’s silence, after which military honours will be rendered by the detachment of honour, signalist and drum section. The detachment of honour will consist of representatives of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The detachment of honour will troop the Swallow-Tailed State Flag under the command of Captain Jani Lindholm
Cadets from the Finnish National Defence University will form an arch of honour to attend to the cortege along Pohjoisesplanadi.
Burial ceremony at Hietaniemi Cemetery
President Ahtisaari will be laid to rest at Hietaniemi Cemetery in the same area where the graves of Presidents Mauno Koivisto, Urho Kekkonen, and Risto Ryti are also located. The pallbearers will be alongside President Ahtisaari’s son, Marko Ahtisaari, the former Aides-de-Camp of President Ahtisaari. In front of the vaulted gates leading to Hietaniemi Cemetery, veterans of peacekeeping missions and cadets will form an arch of honour to attend to the cortege.
The military honours at Hietaniemi Cemetery will be the responsibility of the company of honour appointed by the Guard Jaeger Regiment, and of the Guards Band.
The Finnish Defence Forces will appoint a guard of honor to attend at the grave until 22:00.
President Ahtisaari’s decorations
President Martti Ahtisaari was an internationally respected statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who worked for a better world and for Finland. As President of the Republic of Finland he was the Grand Master of the Order of the Cross of Liberty, the Order of White Rose of Finland, and the Order of the Lion of Finland. The national highest decorations awarded to President Ahtisaari will be placed at his coffin’s side at the funeral service.