Kiltinens are well deserving of many honors received

Both congratulations and thanks are due to Pauline and John Kiltinen of Marquette.

The congratulations are for being chosen for prestigious awards from the Finnish government and for the Hancock Finnish Theme Committee. The thanks are for all the hard work the Kiltinens have done to earn these honors.

The Finnish government will present the couple with some of the highest honors available to non-Finnish people Jan. 30 at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. Finnish Consul General Jukka Pietikainen will bestow the honor of First Class of the Order of the Lion to John and the Cross of Merit of the Order of the White Rose to Pauline at the Heikinpaiva Finnish Festival.

The next day, Jan. 31, the League of Finnish-American Societies U.P. Chapter Finlandia Foundation Affiliate will present a program at 1:30 p.m. at the Masonic Center in downtown Marquette to celebrate the Kiltinens’ honors, and to feature Pietikainen and Honorary Consul James Kurtti as speakers.

There will also be special music by a select chorus led by Erin Colwitz of the Northern Michigan University Department of Music at that event.

Adding to the excitement, the couple will be presiding over the annual Heikinpaiva Festival as Hankooki Heikki and Hankooki Hilma, including riding in the Heikinpaiva parade that day.

Some of the many things John and Pauline Kiltinen have done to earn these wonderful honors include being members of Finlandia University’s Finnish Council in America and being active in numerous Finnish-American organizations that have Upper Peninsula connections.

For instance, they led an effort to commission the international opera that has played to sell out audiences in the Copper Country and in Finland. “Rockland” is about striking Finnish miners in the town of Rockland who are confronted by sheriff’s deputies. In addition, the couple has been actively involved in three FinnFest USA celebrations in the last three decades, two that were held in Marquette and one in the Copper Country; they are active in a variety of Finnish-American organizations; and recently were hailed as the driving force behind the renovation of Findlandia University’s Wiljanen Community Hall.

The Kiltinens continue to promote Finnish culture in the United States. They are involved in the organization of a Finnfest USA in Buffalo, New York, and are also working with the Marquette City Band on a trip to Finland in the next few years.

They are also involved with several projects related to celebrating the centennial of Finland’s declaration of independence from the Russian Republic in 2017.

It’s an exciting month for a most deserving couple. Again, congratulations John and Pauline Kiltinen.