By SRO Kjell Michelsen
This coming Sunday, May 17, is the Norwegian Constitution Day. Celebrating that on May 17, 1814, in the town of Eidsvoll, Norway became an independent nation. However, technically Norway was still in a contentious union with Sweden. This would last until 1905 when Norway finally once again became a genuinely independent country with its own king and queen.
Traditionally the day is celebrated with long parades of dressed-up school children (in particular) with marching bands from all the schools playing music ranging from the U.S. composer, John Philip Sousa, to Norway’s Bjørstjerne Bjørnson, Henrik Wergeland and others. These parades, which are the pride and joy for any city and town, big or small, can often like in the capital Oslo last for hours. People will line the streets, many dressed out in their national costumes, all waving Norwegian flags while shouting, “Hurrah for May 17!”
TV stations will have simultaneous live coverage from all over the country. These live broadcasts are usually hosted by two people; they too dressed in traditionally Norwegian costumes next to the Royal Castle in Oslo. The live TV broadcast is top-rated, especially among those who cannot be out, people in hospitals and nursing homes.
Sadly, like in so many other countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebration, at least as described above, has been canceled this year, for the first time since World War II. The day will still be celebrated but without the long parades. People will be creative, having their very own smaller celebrations in their back yards, on their balconies, or maybe even out on a boat, weather permitting.
Here in the U.S., so many festivals, concerts, and other events that gather a lot of people have also been canceled or postponed. We have our very own Independence Day, the 4th of July coming up in the not so distant future. I am sure it will be a different celebration than in years past but celebrate we will.
Maybe this year with an extra focus on what makes this day so unique, so essential, the fact that freedom is not free. Brave men and women over the years paid a dear price for this freedom.
We must guard it with all our might and challenge those that might seek to alter it in any way, shape, or form, especially during difficult and challenging times.
Until next time, be safe, and keep on going on.