Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Norsk Høstfest: More Setup

Well, day 2 was a long one. First we spent much of the day putting the final touches on the Sons of Norway booth in Oslo Hall. The team was assembling displays and tables, unpacking materials to be handed out and making some final preparation for this year's recruitment and retention incentives. There was a lot of activity in getting ready for tomorrow, but I'm sure all the hard work is going to pay off.

Once the booth was completed the team headed back to our hotel to get ready for some exciting events being hosted by Norsk Høstfest. First there was the Governor's reception that was hosted by Chester Reiten, the president of Norsk Høstfest and N.D. Governor John Hoeven. There were probably 100 people in attendance, including celebrities, like country music sensations Bjoro Haland and Charlie Pride, Sons of Norway International President Dan Rude and official representatives from Skien, Norway.

After that, a number of our party went to go see the Beach Boys, and followed it up by attending a reception held by Bache Cognac. It was a great time and a great opportunity to meet others in the Norwegian-American community. On a side note, if you ever have the opportunity to try some Bache Cognac, I highly recommend it.

By the time this last reception was over, we had all had a very full day and it was time to go home and rest up for tomorrow, the first day of Norsk Høstfest. Check back tomorrow to learn how hte first day went!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Norsk Høstfest: Setting Up

It's been a long day, but a good one. Sons of Norway staff members arrived in Minot this morning for Norsk Høstfest setup. We spent most of the day over at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds setting up our booth. We suspended some large 8x10 foot Sons of Norway banners from the ceiling of Oslo Hall, as well assembling our tables and laying down carpet. Tomorrow we'll set up the rest of the booth environment in anticipation for the opening of the festival on Wednesday. There should also be some photos ready to post tomorrow night as well, so make sure to come back and check them out.

On a related note, today was Odin Lodge's 100th anniversary celebration over in Rugby, N.D.! Congratulations to lodge president Elaine Nelson and all the lodge members! It's always a special event when a lodge celebrates its centennial, so if you know anyone from that lodge, make sure to congratulate them!

More to come tomorrow from Minot and the Norsk Høstfest festival grounds.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Getting to Know...International Secretary Audun Guthfeldt

We've got another great installment of the Getting to Know... series from Nichole Neuman. This time she interviewed our International Secretary Audun Gythfeldt. We hope you enjoy it and have a great weekend!

Audun Gythfeldt joined Sons of Norway in 1981 and has never looked back. With an unparalleled enthusiasm, Audun has undertaken all aspects of lodge, district and international membership and leadership. Most recently, at the International Convention in San Diego, he was elected to International Secretary. Want to know more about Herr Gythfeldt? Read on!

Q: What was the impetus for you to join Sons of Norway?

A: When I finally settled [I] knew about Sons of Norway because my sister had been over here since the 60s and had joined for the travel program. So, I knew about Sons of Norway and thought it might be good to have a group of Norwegians.

Furthermore, Audun said, it was about connecting with other Norwegians in the area; “to get roots in the community.”

Q: What do you think is a distinguishing feature of the 3rd District?

A: Land of the Vikings – what we have that is different than anywhere else. It is important because there are a lot of gatherings and a youth camp up there.
So, it’s a place for a the district to come together?
Yes, it’s still supported by the entire district, the Floridians, even though not everyone can easily get up there.

One other thing we have that none other has and that’s our Viking boat. Three regattas a year.

Q: What’s one thing you’d like to see changed or added to Sons of Norway?

A: Something that we need to do. I belong to two lodges...my own is a large lodge and I’m looking at the participation of membership and such. Only a small portion are active in coming to meetings and that. We need to do something to increase membership. My other lodge gets a ton of people to their meetings.

It is a general factor that it’s a small percentage of members that are really active. We’re trying to work on programs more than anything.

More important than that, I think, is to get the young people involved -- that gap from 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 to 40s…

Q: What do you receive from taking part in SoN international leadership?

A: I’ve been involved in organizational life right back to high school days. Once I get into things, I really get into things. I joined in December 1981 and come elections the following September, I was approached for office and it just went on from there.

I believe very strongly in Sons of Norway and feel very gratified that I can take part in leadership.

Q: When did you emigrate from Norway? From where / why?

A: I came over here in 1972 for a job in the United Nations. That was to be a temporary thing and I went back to Norway a few yers later. Then I came back in 1980 and knew then we’d stay here.

Prior to that, Audun lived in Oslo working for the government.

Q: What is your favorite Norwegian food?

A: får i kål (mutton in cabbage)

Q: Favorite Norwegian drink?

A: What’s truly Norwegian? Aquavit, yeah, it’s ok… aquavit is nice, but I’m not aquavit crazy, either…

Q: Favorite Norwegian folk song?

A: I have 2 favorite songwriters. Erik Bye, he’s written some really great songs, and Alf Prøysen. If you want to include Sweden, we could include Everert Thaube. He has some fantastic waltzes!

Look forward to a profile from our treasurer in two weeks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Next Week: Norsk Høstfest 2008!

Beginning on Monday, the blog will be running daily updates from Norsk Høstfest in Minot, ND. For those of you who've never been, it's a great time for the whole family. I highly suggest you check it out if you have the chance.

Norsk Høstfest is America's largest Scandinavian festival and for 4 or 5 days in October tens of thousands of people from all over North America flock to Minot to celebrate Scandinavian culture. I've gone 4 or 5 times in the last 10 years and every time has been better than the last. The festival is certainly quite a sight.

For those in attendance, there's going to be more than 200 internationally recognized artisans, craftsmen and chefs as well as some of the best entertainment around. And the best part? It's all under one roof. It makes for quite an experience with all the sights, sounds and smells of Scandinavian culture.

Once again Sons of Norway is going to be a part of that experience. As the major sponsors of Oslo Hall at Norsk Høstfest, we will have a large booth where we will be promoting Norwegian heritage and culture, recruiting new members and sharing in fraternity and fellowship with current members.

For those of you who can't be there this year, have no fear. On Monday morning I'll be heading out to Minot, with a few other Sons of Norway staff members, so there will be a number of blog posts from the festival floor! Make sure to check back throughout the week to read about all the excitement!

From the Cultural Desk: Harald Hardråde and the Battle of Stamford Bridge

We've got another very interesting historical post from our Cultural Advisor, Colin Thomsen. Keep reading to learn about how close England came to becoming a full-fledged Norwegian province!

This weekend we at the Sons of Norway culture desk will be raising a drinking horn in honor of King Harald Hardråde, Norway’s last great Viking king who died only 942 years ago this week at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England. Had he survived the battle and won the day, Harald might have very well conquered all of England and turned it into a Norwegian province.

The most interesting information about Harald’s life comes to us from the Heimskringla, the sagas of the Norwegian kings, written by the 13th century Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson. Snorri’s book was based a long oral tradition and written several hundred years after the events it describes, and so its relation to historical fact as we would think of it is quite complicated. Nonetheless, as a work of literature, the Heimskringla paints a fascinating portrait of an ambitious, ruthless ruler who would have given Machiavelli nightmares.

We know that the future King Harald Hardråde was born Harald Sigurdsson in 1015 in Norway. He was the half-brother of Olaf Haraldsson, better known as Saint Olaf. The saga tells us that at the age of 15 Harald fought alongside his brother at the fateful Battle of Stiklestad, where Olaf was killed. Harald was wounded and forced to flee the battlefield along with a band of followers. Together they hid in the forest and eventually escaped to Russia, where they joined the court of Yaroslav the Wise. Harald traveled far and wide, hunting pirates in Greece and serving as a soldier in the Byzantine Empire. He plundered from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa and Sicily, conquering some 80 towns and becoming enormously wealthy. This part of the saga is filled with colorful stories showing how Harlad used a combination of bravery, brutality and cunning to achieve victory at any cost.

Eventually Harald returned to Norway where his nephew, Saint Olaf’s son Magnus, ruled as king. Due to a mixture of political pressure and the threat of violence, Magnus was forced to divide Norway between the two of them. However, after just a year, Magnus mysteriously died, leaving Harald king over all Norway.

Harald ruled over Norway for about 20 years. He spent a lot of time raiding and burning Danish towns, as well as crushing rebellions and destroying enemies within Norway. His penchant for violence earned him the name Hardråde, which translates roughly as “hard ruler” or “tyrant.” He also built many churches and founded the city of Oslo.

In 1066 Harald invaded England with a huge army and won an early victory at the Battle of Fulford on September 20th. Five days later he was surprised by a much larger English force at Stamford Bridge. The Norwegians hadn’t expected the English to arrive for a few days, and many of the soldiers had left their armor in their ships. Nonetheless Harald prepared a shield wall and fought the English tenaciously. The saga says that “King Harald then was in a rage, and ran out in front of the array, and hewed down with both hands; so that neither helmet nor armor could withstand him, and all who were nearest gave way before him.” A Viking age poet remembered it this way:

Where battle-storm was ringing,
Where arrow-cloud was singing,
Harald stood there,
Of armor bare,
His deadly sword still swinging.
The foeman feel its bite;
His Norsemen rush to fight,
Danger to share,
With Harald there,
Where steel on steel was ringing.

Harald was then cut down by an arrow and his closest followers were soon killed as well. The English king, Harold Godwinson, offered the Norsemen quarter, but they refused, preferring to die with their king.

Godwinson would not have long to enjoy his victory. Immediately after the battle he was forced to march his army south to confront William the Conqueror, a Norman French nobleman who had designs of his own on England. On October 10th, Godwinson would lose the Battle of Hastings to William, who would soon become master of all England. His campaign in England is known as the Norman Conquest and it would have an enormous impact on the course of English history, language and culture.

It’s interesting to imagine what could have happened if Harald had succeeded. England’s ties to Scandinavia would have been strengthened; Norse language and culture would have taken root there; the Norwegian royal family would have grown far richer off the tributes of the English countryside; and English might well be today considered a Scandinavian language. Many historians consider Harald’s death to be the end of the Viking Age. To read the saga of Harald Hardråde, click here.

WWII Quiz Results

Last week we started a quiz about Norway during WWII and now here are the results:

Q1: The invasion of Norway had a German name. What was that name?

The correct answer for this question was Operation Weserübung and 56% of you got the answer right!

Q2: One of the earliest and strongest statements made by a Norwegian during the German invasion of Norway was "Vi gir oss ikke frivillig, kampen er allerede i gang." Translated into English the quote says "We will not submit voluntarily; the struggle is already under way." Who originally said the quote above?

This one was a tricky one, but 25% of those who answered this question got it right when they chose foreign minister Halvdan Koht as the person to whom this quote is attributed to.

Q3: What was the name of the ship that helped King Haakon and much of the Norwegian Government escape Norway during Germany's invasion?

Great job to those of you, three quarters in all, who chose the HMS Devonshire as the great ship that helped during the escape from Norway. I guess a lot of our members are nautical buffs, huh?

Q4: During Germany's occupation of Norway, King Haakon headed a government in exile. Which Allied Power played host to the Norwegian Government?

Even though the U.S. and Sweden both played gracious hosts to the royal family at one time or another, it was in Britain where the Norwegian Government in Exile was established.

Q5: Norway's experience during WWII had a major ripple effect in Norway's future, eventually causing it to play a larger role in global affairs. After abandoning its policy of neutrality, Norway became a founding member of which organization?

The correct answer to this question was the United Nations. This question was a tricky one because Norway is also a founding member of NATO, however that wasn't until 1948. It was three years before that when the UN was founded to replace the League of Nations, with the purpose of stopping wars between countries and to provide a platform for dialogue. Norway was a founding member after abandoning its policy of neutrality. In fact, did you know that the first U.N. Secretary General was a Norwegian by the name of Trygve Lie?

More Information on the Norwegian Resistance Movement

For those of you interested in reading even more stories about the Norwegian resistance movement, there's a few great websites to check out:

Norway: War, Resistance, Peace There are some great stories from people involved in the resistance movement here.

Norwegian Resistance Museum This website is dedicated to the museum that keeps the memory of Norway's valiant fight alive.

In Their Own Words YouTube has a series of 3 great videos about the Norwegian Heavy Water sabotage.

Norwegian Resistance Here you will find some great info on the resistance.

Hero of the Norwegian Resistance This is a great article about Gunnar Sønsteby.

WWII People's War Another story from the resistance.

And don't forget, if you want to read all the stories we've run over the past week or so on the Norwegian Resistance, you can click here to view them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SCOOP! Norwegian PM Visits with Viking Magazine

As recently reported, the current Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, visited Minneapolis this past Monday. It was a whirlwind trip, hosted by Honorary Consul General and former Vice President, Walter Mondale. I've heard the trip was a good one, with the PM checking out the U of M's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in East Bethel, then meeting with Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty.

What most folks don't know is that Sons of Norway's Viking magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Stoltenberg while he was in town and conduct an interview! I believe the interview will run in the January or February issue and, depending on the length of the q & a, there might be an expanded version found here. Remember folks, you heard it here first!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Norwegian Resistance in WWII: Quiz

Just a reminder that Sons of Norway has a a short quiz about Norway during WWII that you can take! It's fun and quick and at the end of the week I'll be posting the correct answers so you can see how you did.

Norwegian Resistance in WWII: Escape to Sweden

Today's story comes from Leif Krisoffersen and Hanna Spiers. It's the story of Odd Westeng and Alf Bredesen who, in 1942, resolved to join the resistance. Two city boys, they disguised themselves as lumberjacks and moved to the country in eastern Norway, where for three and a half years they shuttled people along a 12-mile route to the Swedish border.

When Odd and Alf would do this, there was no exchange of names; “firm grips and open smiles sealed the comradeship, leaving no doubt that we stood for the same principles and against the same enemy.” The 12-mile trip would take the escapees to the border of Sweden, then 250 yards across to a road that would take them to a safe village. The story is told from Odd's point of view.

At dusk, with the evening breeze sweeping through the forest and the mist rising from the lakes and moors it was like a world of make believe taken out of the annals of Norwegian folklore: trolls with three heads, lurking behind the hills. As always, the last stretch before the border was the most unnerving and distressing part for the refugees. It was just as if the trolls became Germans, hiding in every bush and behind every tree. Suddenly the group heard rifle shots and a single burst of machine gun fire.

We were very close to the border now. I dropped to the ground and everyone followed suit immediately. We crawled through the undergrowth. There was no further shooting, no sound, once again the forest was still. Then, faintly, coming from the south-east, we heard the sounds of footsteps. They were coming closer and it startled everybody to hear German voices coming through the night. We saw their torch lights flickering from side to side, searching the path.

So we waited and waited, noiselessly, everyone with their own thoughts, some perhaps thinking of their homes, their loved ones or their dramatic escape through the blacked-out streets of Oslo; all wondering what might lie ahead or what might happen before they reached the safety that was only 200 yeards away.

It was a long wait, but when it ended we heard nothing suspicious from any direction. We set off and reached the road in Sweden without any further difficulty.

Brede told the escapees, “you have a mile to go to the village. Good luck to all of you.” Then they turned to us with outstretched hands, thanking us again and again. So, we parted from our friends, never to know their names.

To read another story about Odd Westeng visit The Second World War Experience Center online. And don't forget, if you want to read all the stories we've run so far on the Norwegian Resistance, you can click here to view them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Norwegian Resistance in WWII: Grandmother's Jewelry

Picking up where the October issue of Viking magazine leaves off, here's another great story about a Norwegian family during WWII and the German occupation of Norway.

Christine Meseng sent in this story about something that happened as a child during WWII.

It was Christmas Eve of 1943 and my sister, parents, who were both immigrants from Kristiansand, and I were invited to a friend’s home. The friends had also invited others who had immigrated from Kristiansund and it was to be an old time party where all the furniture was pushed aside and we could dance around the Christmas tree, as they did years ago in Norway.

Our friends, the Linneruds, had invited three young men into their home for the holidays. The young men had escaped from Norway after the invasion and made their way to Toronto, Canada, where the Norwegian government had established an aviation training camp called Little Norway. These boys were training to go back to Norway and fight the Nazi’s.

My sister and I got to talking with the young men as we were the only young people that could speak Norwegian. We talked about many things in this country and eventually one of the men asked my name. When I told him he got very quiet and asked “what is your father’s name?”

I told the boy my father’s name was Christ Nygaard and he then asked where my father was from. I told him my father came from Kvernes, a small island near Kristiansund, and pointed my father out to him. The young man quietly left the room , only to return a few minutes later and walk up to my father. “Kristian Johan Nygaard, dette er fra din Mor,” (Kristian Johan Nygaard, this is from your mother) he said. With that, he handed my father a small package. My dad opened it and there lay my grandmother’s jewelry.

The young man told us that my grandparents had helped him escape from Norway. But, before he left my grandmother had given him this package and told him to give it to my father if was able to get to Chicago.

Everyone was stunned! Can you imagine how small the chances were that he would even get to the U.S., let alone find my father?

Thanks again, Christine, this was a great story of family helping the resistance movement by assisting two young men escape the clutches of Nazi Germany so they could, one day, come back to fight for their homeland's freedom.

Don't forget, if you want to read all the stories we've run so far on the Norwegian Resistance, you can click here to view them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Norwegian Resistance in WWII: Uncle Haakon

In continuing the October Viking's feature on Norway's resistance movement during WWII, we have a great story from Tore Haugeto of Staten Islan NY about his uncle, Haakon Somerset. This is an expanded version of the story that ran on page 16 of the October Viking.

My uncle Haakon Sommerset was an elementary teacher in Oslo before WWII. He was an anti-Nazi union leader. His name was listed on the Gestapo index cards that were sunk in the Oslo fjord with the cruiser Blucher on the first day of the Nazi invasion. The sinking only saved Haakon for a short while.

You see, teachers were required to join the Nazi (NS) Norwegian teachers organization if they wanted to continue to teach. By March 1942, 98% of Oslo teachers had quit the compulsory NS teachers union. The four teacher unions protested against
Vidkung Quisling’s Nazi curriculum and they wrote a letter to Norway’s church and education department. The letter said they had to be true to their teacher call and their conscience and could not teach Nazi curriculum to the youth of Norway. 8,000 envelopes and letters were sent out to the male and female teachers throughout the land. Nearly all the teachers signed the letter.

In April, 1942, over 1,100 teachers, including my uncle Haakon, were arrested because they had quit the NS teachers union. They came from the elementary and high schools as well as professors from the
University of Oslo. The 650 male teachers were put into concentration camps in Finnmark. Reichskommisar Terboven said the teachers action was no longer and internal Norwegian problem. The Wermacht, SS and Gestapo would handle the problem.

My uncle, and 650 other teachers, were sent to
Grini, a huge concentration camp near Oslo. The next day they were put in cattle cars and sent northward. They spent 18 hours in the cattle cars before they were in Trondheim. Then they were put on the MS Skjerstad and sailed to Kirkenes. The stink on the ship was terrible. The men felt they couldn’t get enough air. The boat was stopped at Bodo for six days and the Red Cross was allowed to give the teachers some sandwiches. On April 28th, they arrived in Kirkenes, which was the most northern concentration camp on the German Reich. Kirkenes was a mining city with enormous iron ores, so it was valuable to the Nazi war effort. The Norwegian teachers then had to make a 10 kilometer march to their barracks, which were unbelievably dirty but the teachers cleaned them up. They were put on forced labor teams for 12 hours a day and received little to eat. My uncle lost 60 lbs during his imprisonment.

Because my uncle Haakon spoke German, and had been a
labor party (Arbeiterpartei) political and a union leader before the war, the other prisoners elected him to be the spokesman for all the teachers in the camp. He spoke to many German army officers at the camp, a few of whom said that it was shameful that Norwegian teachers were arrested.

Life in the camp was hard for uncle Haakon and the other prisoners. The camp was ice cold, being so far north, and the barracks walls were made of pressed paper. My uncle stole some potato sacks to make a sleeping bag, but if he’d been caught stealing the sacks he would have been shot. However, if he hadn’t stolen the bags he would have frozen to death. I

n the camp, some teachers became deathly ill, so my uncle, who headed the camp committee, advised the sick to recognize the new order and the NS so they could go home. Years later my uncle would have to write letters on their behalf to the education department, explaining these sick men and women had not really been
Nazi collaborators.

Then, in September of 1943, Quisling finally realized that he couldn’t break the teachers unions, and since the teachers were greatly needed in the schools, three hundred men were sent south again. Two months later the remaining imprisoned teachers were released. In the end, most teachers returned to their classrooms and resumed teaching their regular Norwegian curriculum.

But this was not the end of the story for my uncle Haakon. After his release from the concentration camp, he joined the
civorg (the civilian resistance movement). It was his job to collect and distribute vital information from Britain and the home front. Along with his compatriots, he had to secretly listen to British radio broadcasts and run off newspaper articles.

When the war finally ended, uncle Haakon was appointed principal of Majorstua, the largest elementary school in Oslo.

Coming up tomorrow we have a great story about a chance encounter with Norwegian resistance fighters in Chicago, Ill. And don't forget, if you want to read all the stories we've run so far on the Norwegian Resistance, you can click here to view them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Norwegian Resistance in WWII: Invasion and the Birth of the Resistance Movement

The starting date of the war is generally held to be September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by the United Kingdom, France and the British Dominions. From that point until early April, 1940, Norwegians regularly gathered in churches, on street corners and around their radios, discussing Nazi Germany's aggressions and the ambitions of their leader, Adolf Hitler.

Then, on April 9th, 1940, life would change for all Norwegians with the launch of Operation Weserübung, the invasion of their homeland by the Nazi's. The country was taken entirely by surprise and it was a time of chaos for many Norwegians. Consistent with Germany's Blitzkrieg doctrine, five divisions of Nazis invaded at once, Quisling was on the radio declaring himself Prime Minister and ordering all resistance to halt at once and the Norwegian military was left in a state of initial disarray due unclear mobilization orders from the government. The whole of the country was in a state of psychological shock from the Nazi invasion.

But, even in these darkest of times there was still a glimmer of light. With a speed and urgency to match Germany's Blitzkrieg tactics, Norway endeavored its own resistance movement. Greatly outnumbered and with few physical resources at hand, many Norwegian citizens banded together to do everything they could to protect their homes, their families and their cherished way of life. Check back all next week to read posts about Norway's resistance movement during World War II and some first-hand accounts from our members.

The History of Sons of Norway's Logo

Today we bring you the first blog entry from Sons of Norway's very own Cultural Advisor (Kulturrådgjevar), Colin Thomsen. In this installment Colin answers a question we get from a lot of our members regarding the history of the Sons of Norway logo. It's a very interesting topic, and we hope you enjoy it.

Sons of Norway Headquarters frequently gets questions about the Sons of Norway shield – that familiar symbol found throughout the organization on everything from stickers and patches to letterhead and websites. So we did some research, looking at history books and old copies of the Viking and here’s what we’ve found.

In 1901 Sons of Norway’s board of directors voted to approve an emblem to represent the fast-growing organization. This logo consisted of a rotund tri-color shield that looked a little like a sheriff’s badge. In the top red stripe there was a symbol representing the midnight sun, while the bottom blue stripe contained the North Star. The center white stripe was reserved for the abbreviation “S. af N.” for “Sønner af Norge” as the organization was then known.

That shield remained in use until a 1922 committee selected a new design. The new emblem, created by Martin J Grindheim (then-president of Nordkap 1-008) in many ways resembles the current one; a narrow shield with a Viking ship, and the North Star. However the Viking ship was shown from a side view and the North Star was found at the bottom of the shield, where it had been in the pervious design. Other differences include the letters “FBF” (Frihed, Broderkjærlighed, Fremskritt – Freedom, Brotherly Love, and Progress, in the Norwegian of the time) over the ship and an American eagle perched over the top of the shield.

Other versions of the shield emblem were used on documents and regalia over the years. Member Peter Gandrud (1-500) of Bemidji sent us in some photos of regalia from the now defunct Solvang lodge of Sunburg, Minnesota, to which his grandfather belonged in the 1910s. Peter’s photos show an excellent example of a version of the logo that was typical for regalia of the time.

As early as 1914, pressure had been building to include Canadian symbolism in the shield, and in 1929 another revised version of the logo was presented. The 1929 emblem was a circle, containing a shield with a forward-facing Viking ship with the midnight sun behind it. Above the shield a banner appeared, with the initials “SN” separated by a star. On the left of the shield is an American eagle; on the right, the Canadian maple leaf.

This symbol was used in the masthead of the organization’s monthly magazine until 1955. In the late 40s and early 50s simplified versions of the 1929 logo began appearing in the magazine, on songbooks and other places. Although there were many different variations on the idea, most of them dropped the eagle and maple leaf and integrated the “S*N” into the top of the shield. It seems that this version, resembling the current shield, became more popular through the 50s and was in widespread use by the time Headquarters was built in 1962.

However, our research so far has been unable to determine exactly who designed the current shield or when it was officially adopted. If anyone has any information about the origin of the modern Sons of Norway shield, we would be delighted to see it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

World War II Quiz

Since we'll be running the series on the Norwegian Resistance Movement during WWII, I've put together a short quiz for all you history buffs! I'll post the correct answers next Wednesday, so you can see how you did. Enjoy!

Norwegian Resistance in WWII

The October issue of Viking magazine ought to be arriving in members home's this week and I can promise it's going to be a great issue! The feature I'm most excited about deals with members stories and experiences with Norwegian Resistance Movement during the World War II Nazi occupation.

When we reached out to our members a few months ago, asking for their stories, we had no idea there would be so many. In fact, we received more responses than there was room for in the magazine! So, for the next week or so the blog is going to be running a multi-part series retelling members' stories about resistance movement and their WWII experiences. We'll have posts about what happened during and after the German invasion and providing other interesting bits of information about Norway's struggle for independence from the Nazis.

We hope you'll enjoy the series. If you have stories of your own about Norway during WWII or the Resistance Movement, let us know about it because we'd love to hear your story. You can either post your story in the comments section below any of these posts, or you can e-mail them to me at sonsofnorway@sofn.com and I'll be happy to post them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Getting to Know…International President Dan Rude

Over the next couple of weeks our Membership Coordinator, Nichole Neuman, will be running a series called "Getting to Know..." that will profile some of our International Board members and give you, the reader, a chance to get to know them a little better. So, this week we are starting at the top with a short interview/profile that Nichole did with our new International President Dan Rude.

Dan is a very familiar face around Sons of Norway. He's been an active member since 1972 and most recently served as International Vice President, adding to the long list of International, District and Lodge (Normanden 4-424 in Missoula, MT) offices he's held over the years. You may already know of Dan's passion for youth programming (he even calls the Fraternal Staff his “kids”) and his co-authoring of the Barnsas Norsk Klubb, but what else motivates Dan’s commitment to Sons of Norway? Read on for a short interview and get to know your new President!

Q: Favorite Norwegian Delicacy?

A: Torsk (cod)

Q: Favorite Norwegian Cookie?

A: Jordelbakkels

Q: Ever been to Norway? What were some highlights?

A: Five times – one of them was visiting the church where my grandmother was confirmed. It was also a highlight to visit the exchange students and spend time with them and their families. I also co-chaired a square dance event, which was fun.

Oh! And sitting in the King’s chair in Parliament--though maybe I wasn’t supposed to do that... and I spoke from the podium (Does that make Dan the “king” of Sons of Norway?)

Q: What cultural skills do you practice?

A: I have all three bars for folk dancing and the mentor for that, too, and two bars for stamp collecting and one reading bar.

Q: How get involved with / learn folk dancing?

A: I’ve been instructing for over 30 years, but I went to watch a folk dance and was invited by a young couple to participate and we’ve been folk dancing ever since.

Q: What is the best part of being president?

A: Being invited to be part of all the celebrations and 100th anniversaries and going to go to the FBCs’ vacation. (I hear he’s taking me…) The fun part is working with the people at home office and my board and getting to meet all our members. The people make it.

Q: What are some goals? / Why did you want to be president?

A: I want to see us increase our membership and participation and see what we can do to stop the voluntary leaving. I’d really like to get out and visit the different districts. It’s really quite interesting to see how the different districts handle their business. I don’t think a lot of districts take advantage of the cultural skill programming. I’d like to see more of the districts participate. As well, I’d encourage more districts to get involved with family and cultural camps.

Q: What is your favorite activity from the Barnas Norsk Klubb?

A: The Barneløpet and our Halloween Party

Dan sure has come a long way since he first joined for the travel programs 36 years ago! Over the years he's become a strong leader and a great supporter of fraternal programming. We congratulate Dan, again, on his election to the office of International President and we at the Headquarters look forward to working with him over the next two years.

Be sure to stay tuned for more profiles of your new International Board! Nichole will be back next Wednesday with another update.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just a couple more days until Colin and Nichole are ready to debut their first blog posts. But until then, we're going to have a little trivia contest. Here's how it goes:

In preparation for next week's series on member stories about the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II, we've put together a 5 question quiz about Norway during its occupation. You can take the quiz here and then make sure to check back on Friday to see the correct answers!

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What's next for the Sons of Norway blog?

The weekend is almost here, but before we all check out for a couple days of well deserved relaxation, I wanted to share some exciting pieces of news regarding the Sons of Norway blog.

First, beginning next week, the Sons of Norway blog will be welcoming two new contributors! Headquarters staff members Colin Thomsen and Nichole Neuman will enter the blogosphere with regular posts on a number of topics ranging from Norwegian culture and heritage to answers to common questions we get from the public and members.

In fact, I believe Colin is already working on something we get a lot of questions about. Our logo. Its changed little over the past century and we get a lot of questions about the meaning and symbolism behind it. So, next week make sure and check back to read all about it. From what I have seen already, the story of our logo is actually quite interesting. Personally, I'm really looking forward to reading it and I can't wait to share it with all of you.

The other exciting news is relates to the October issue of Viking magazine, which should be arriving in homes during the week of 9/22. In it, there will be a feature on members' experiences with and in the Norwegian Resistance Movement during WWII. It's sure to be a great article, because we had such a large response from members with stories about their experiences. In fact the response was so overwhelming there wasn't enough room for all of them in the magazine, so the blog will be running a series of member stories in tandem with the release of the October Viking magazine! Make sure to check them out. I've already read a few and they are great!

Well, that's it for now-I'm off to the first-ever Draxten Lodge golf outing. We'll have some new posts up on Monday so be sure to check back then. Until then, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Want to learn about rosemaling?

Remember my post from a few days ago about Hannah Graves? Well, I'm not the only one singing her praises. There's a great article here about her latest accomplishment. You see, after nearly three years of efforts, she has become the youngest person in the United States to earn a Sons of Norway master’s pin in cultural skills. That's no easy task, so let's all give a hearty congratulations to Ms. Graves!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our Cultural Skills Program, it's a fun, educational program designed to encourage active participation in traditional and contemporary Norwegian pursuits. With 14 areas of study to choose from, ranging from rosemaling to chip carving to folk dancing, there's definitely something for everyone. In each of the 14 categories, there are three different levels that can be attained. Also, there are four different tracks participants can follow:
  • Specialist: One who wishes to go in depth in one area, e.g. Hardanger embroidery or genealogy, etc.

  • Generalist: One who samples several skills and qualify for the basic level in each, for example: stamp collecting, crafts, and Norwegian foods.

  • Mentor: One who is skilled in activities offered in the Norwegian Cultural Skills Program can do a different challenge: mentor others who need formal or informal instruction. The mentor is an extremely important person in passing on the Norwegian heritage to others.

  • Master of Cultural Skills: One who has completed at least three levels of three different skills, or nine individual basic activities.
It's a great program that can be done alone, or easily adapted into a group activity. If you'd like to learn more about the Sons of Norway Cultural Skills Program, there's two ways to do so. You can either contact send an e-mail to ljonsen@sofn.com or call us at (800) 945-8851.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Th!nk: How Will it Fare Outside Norway?

Recently Aftenposten reported that "sales of new cars in the Oslo region have fallen by 5 percent during the last year. In contrast, sales of environmentally friendly cars...have risen by 74 percent in the same period." Norway and Norwegian based businesses have long been on the cutting edge of environmentalism, leading by example in environmental conservation and protection. Now, Norwegian-based Th!nk is looking to take its show on the road.

According to a Wired report, Th!nk is will bring its "
Think City" model to the United States beginning in early 2009. The battery-powered Think City has a range of up to 110 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 65 mph, and is slated to be priced under $25,000. For the city-dwelling, eco-conscious, yet practical comsumer this could be a huge step towards independence from fossil fuels.

However, historically, U.S. consumers have been slower to warm up to cars like the Th!nk. It's a small car, which only accomodates two people, has limited range and right now there's no infrastructure to support re-charging the vehicle anywhere but at home.

These are all big changes that would take any group of people a lot of time to adjust to, if ever. Personally, when I look at it, I think it would be kind of cool--in fact my in-laws are already talking about buying one. The thing is, here in Minnesota we get pretty extreme weather all year-round and I wonder if the Th!nk is up to the task of forging through the deep snow and slick ice we get everywhere-even in the big cities?

The same could be said for a lot of North American cities, so I pose the question to you: Do you think that the "Th!nk City" will be a successful venture, here in the U.S.? You can either comment below, or vote in the poll over on the right side. I'll post the results next Monday. In the meantime, please discuss.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some Light Reading

We're almost wrapped up with posts about this year's International Convention--there may be another post or two about it early next week. However, in the meantime I've found some interesting blogs that you might like to read over the weekend.

First up there is My Little Norway, a blog written by L-Jay, Moose and Lilu, a family living in Norway. I think it's a great blog because it's for those who love going beyond 'tourist' and discovering the real people, places, food, and culture of Norway!

Next, take a look at An American in Oslo, which is written by Patrick, an IT worker in Oslo. But don't let his profession foll you into thinking the blog is all about computer stuff. Nope, this blog talks about the good and bad things that come with living in Oslo.

Last, but not least is RennyBA's Terella, a blog about Norway and the Nordic countries; the significant four seasons, our culture, traditions, habits and sometimes some Scandinavian food.

Please remember, before you read these blogs that the opinions and statements made within them are not necessarily those of Sons of Norway. We just thought you'd like to read more about Norway or from others in Norway.

Have a great weekend everyone! We'll be back with new posts on Monday afternoon!

Friday, September 5, 2008

International Folk Art Exhibition & Competition

This year's International Folk Art Exhibition & Competition was a great event, with many beautiful entries. I had the opportunity to spend some time in the exhibition room, checking out all the great pieces of folk art and I never cease to be amazed at the talent of Sons of Norway members. The time, effort and talent that goes into many of the folk art pieces is truly inspiring (and makes me wish I wasn't devoid of artistic talent). When you look at the various entries, you can see the love of heritage pouring out from every rosemaled, woven and carved piece.

With that, it's time to congratulate District 2's own Hannah Graves for winning the Best in Show Award! Hannah's 4-inch-wide card-woven Telemark belt was chosen by the folk art judges to be the best entry in any category. Congratulations, Hannah, on your fine work and your commitment to keeping traditional Norwegian art alive!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Outstanding Service Award Presented to Ralph Peterson

Last Friday, during the convention, International President, Ted Fosberg, presented the first Sons of Norway Outstanding Service Award to District 3 President, Ralph Peterson. The award was established to recognize a member who has shown dedication and exceptional service to Sons of Norway. The recipient is selected by the International President and will be presented at each International Convention.

International President Ted Fosberg presents the Outstanding Service Award to D3 President Ralph Peterson

The award, presented to Ralph for his tireless work in Distric 3, setting up new lodges and helping increase the district's membership, was a new addition to this year's convention and will become a biennial award given at every International Convention to come. Also, with the award comes a check for $2,000, which is to be spent on a Sons of Norway activity, program or event of Ralph's choosing.

Ralph Peterson is awarded a $2,000 check to be put towards the Sons of Norway activity, program or event of his choosing.

We at the Sons of Norway Headquarters congratulate Ralph on his accomplishments and thank him for all his work. This really is proof that there's no limit to what a single member can do if they put their mind to it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Election Results: Sons of Norway Board of Directors

One of the most exciting and important parts of any International Convention is the election of officers to the Sons of Norway International Board of Directors. This is one of the things that many delegates and staff members look forward too with great anticipation because the people elected will be the ones who help chart the course of Sons of Norway for the next two years. These officers will work with lodges and members, at all levels, to take Sons of Norway into the future and ensure its viability and relevance today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

So, with that, I humbly present to you the 2008-2010 Sons of Norway International Board of Directors!

L to R: Back Row Ernst Granley (D8); Bill Fosmoe (D2); Sherrill Swenson (D6); Erik Brochmann (D7); Middle Row Jostein Bakken (D5); Elaine Nelson (D4); Barbara Berntsen (D3); Jon Tehven (D1); Front Row Marit Kristiansen (International Vice President); Dan Rude (International President); Audun Gythfeldt (International Secretary); Gene Brandvold (International Treasurer)

The newly elected officers for the 2008-2010 biennium are as follows:
Dan Rude-International President
Marit Kristiansen-
International Vice President
Audun Gythfeldt-
International Secretary
Jon Tehven-
International Director (D1)
Barbara Berntsen-
International Director (D3)

Reelected officers for the
2008-2010 biennium are as follows:
Gene Brandvold-International Treasurer
Bill Fosmoe-
International Director (D2)
Elaine Nelson-
International Director (D4)

We Have a New President!

On Saturday the delegates voted and elected a new Sons of Norway International President! It is with great pleasure that I can announce the Sons of Norway International President for the 2008-2010 biennium is Dan Rude!

New International President, Dan Rude

Past International President, Ted Fosberg, passing the gavel to new International President Dan Rude.

Please join me in congratulating Dan on his great accomplishment! I'm sure I speak for everyone at the Sons of Norway Headquarters when I say that we look forward to working together towards a bright future for our beloved organization!

Sons of Norway Unveils New Mission Statement

As many of you may know, one of the hotly debated issues at this year's International Convention was our Mission Statement. In fact, there were two separate resolutions this year that hoped to adjust the mission statement. Proponents of both resolutions felt that the current mission statement was not in line with our current members backgrounds and that it was too exclusive. The proponents felt that because many of our lodges are located in areas with a large Nordic community we needed to be more inclusive in our mission.

After much debate on both resolutions, the end result was a hybrid compromise that the delegates felt better represented our members and the work we do. So, without further adieu, the new Sons of Norway Mission Statement is:

The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic Countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products to our members.