My family hails from Finland. Viitasaari to be more precise. My great grandfather came over to the US and then settled the family. We think my grandfather may have been born here, but aren't certain. With no birth records and no reference in the census until 1930, we still have way more questions than answers.
A few years back, I took a few classes in Finnish language and got more in touch with my Finnish roots. The Finish I knew at that point is the kind of stuff kids know and that wasn't enough for me. I wanted to be able to tell someone my name, Minun nimi on kirsten. I wanted to be able to ask if they speak Finnish, Puhutko suomea? and I really wanted to greet someone in Finnish, Hauska tutustua, hyva paiva. Not so sure how my spelling still is, but I learned a lot and could get around if push came to shove.
I have a very stong affinity and pull towards all things Finnish, so when I saw this a few minutes ago, it brought tears to my eyes:
HELSINKI, Finland - A gunman opened fire Tuesday on students at a vocational school for adults in western Finland and then shot himself, police said. Finnish media reported that several people were killed.
Within a short space of time I heard several dozen rounds of shots, in other words it was an automatic pistol," school janitor Jukka Forsberg told broadcaster YLE. "I saw some female students who were wailing and moaning, and one managed to escape out of the back door."
Finnish broadcaster YLE, citing police at the school, reported that several people were killed. The Finnish news agency STT said the school building was on fire and the gunman reportedly had explosives on him.
About a year ago, another Finn opened fire on his classmates at school (from the same article).
Last year, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, described by police as a bullied 18-year-old outcast, opened fire at his high school in southern Finland on Nov. 7. He killed six students, a school nurse and the principal before ending his own life with a gunshot to the head.
Finnish investigators have said Auvinen left a suicide note for his family and foreshadowed his attack in YouTube postings.
After Auvinen's rampage, the government said it would raise the minimum age for buying guns from 15 to 18, but insisted there was no need for sweeping changes to Finland's gun laws.
I grew up thinking that everyone's family was like mine, immigrant. I believed that everyone ate nisua, knew that coffee can be drunk at midnight and that you sweeten coffee with polisuccettia (damn my spelling) and sometimes, with a bite of suklotta. Everyone ate fish, and all towns had open family saunas (at one time there was a sauna on almost every corner of town, or so I thought) and that sauna is pronounced SOUW'na.
It was a pretty simple view of the world, I know. But it's this view today that I think of as I think of all the families now suffereing, hoping that their brothers and sisters made it out, their sons and duaghters, their wives and husbands. And I can't help but wonder, what the fuck is going on?